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LETTER: Housing region’s workforce a two-way street

Proponents of more development in North Saanich often cite travel statistics to support their arguments, claiming that because so many thousands of workers travel every day by car to North Saanich, the district must provide workforce housing.

North Saanich council candidate Phil DiBattista’s claim that 70 per cent of our workforce commutes to North Saanich is a recent example of this practice.

What is always left out is the number of workers who leave North Saanich every day to work in other municipalities, and I have never heard arguments being made that housing should be provided for them in Victoria and Langford to shorten their commutes.

Current statistics included in the North Saanich Community Profile show more self-employed people and people working from home in North Saanich than in other municipalities, so of course, fewer people leave here each day.

The CRD Travel Study shows that there are only 1,840 more daily trips by car for work made to North Saanich than are made from North Saanich, a tiny percentage of the more than 680,000 trips made each day in the CRD.

Most of the commuters to North Saanich are travelling to work at well-paid positions on the airport lands, where 2,645 workers are employed.

The airport has no compunction about building a facility for Amazon, or a hotel for wealthy travellers, and passing the infrastructure costs, such as a new roundabout, off on us, driving our taxes up each year, and has even challenged its tax bill, straining district finances.

But when it comes to housing for those who work on airport land, the first demand is always that it be provided by one of the only two rural municipalities within the Regional Growth Strategy area, North Saanich, which is already growing at a rate of 8.8 per cent, far exceeding the Regional Growth Strategy goal for growth outside the Urban Containment Boundary.

The Oct. 15 election is crucial for the future of North Saanich.

Candidates must research and use statistics with care. Misuse can be misleading and is corrosive to our political process.

Patrick Godfrey

North Saanich