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LETTER: North Saanich has been clear in its disapproval of OCP review

In the Nov. 6 article, “Company drafting new OCP in North Saanich welcomes community input after election,” Mr. Oystryk states that “we are keen to … ensure the draft OCP reflects the range of community values found in North Saanich.”

This is a very remarkable statement given that various metrics indicate that in over two-and-a-half years of consultation this goal has not been achieved. Those metrics include massive disapproval of the OCP project in correspondence to council, a public rally in July 2021 expressing the same sentiments and a frequent admission by the project team that they had lost the trust of the community. Cap that with the recent municipal election results that saw the five successful candidates who support the Regional Growth Strategy receiving 11,227 votes compared to the two other candidates leaning towards urbanization receiving only 3,157.

It would seem that the community’s values are more accurately represented by the municipal election outcome than by the draft OCP. Why is there such a huge gulf between the actual community values (rural, agricultural) and the representation of them in the draft OCP?

Mr. Oystryk’s puzzling answer to the question, “Why have the OCP reviews in Sidney and Central Saanich gone so much smoother than in North Saanich?” gives us a clue. He explains that those jurisdictions have “largely settled the key questions around growth and development” because “they have Urban Containment Boundaries.” Apparently, those key questions are unsettled in North Saanich because “the situation [there] is different.” What?

As Mr. Oystryk should know, North Saanich, like every municipality within the CRD, has an Urban Containment Boundary (UCB). It is a central feature of the Regional Growth Strategy. Actually, the key questions around growth and development are settled everywhere in the CRD, including North Saanich, by the UCB and the RGS policies. For North Saanich, the UCB is the border with Sidney. For areas like North Saanich, which are entirely outside the UCB, growth is limited to a maximum of five per cent of the regional total.

Indeed, the OCP review has not gone smoothly in North Saanich, largely because the project team has obscured the existence and importance of the RGS, while inappropriately introducing urbanization themes into the process. Fortunately, the voters saw through this ruse and put a new crew into the wheelhouse.

Springfield Harrison

North Saanich