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LETTER: North Saanich has the chance to be a leader in the region

Hey North Saanich, let’s be the district that doesn’t go with the flow. Let’s be the district that leads the way in the 21st century – that says “yes” to protecting our remaining natural habitat.

North Saanich can show other municipalities the importance of maintaining hedgerows and farmland (both ALR and currently vacant lands that are zoned agricultural). North Saanich can create strong local policies to protect water supplies and encourage the reuse of grey water for irrigation. North Saanich can be the district that our neighbours in Sidney visit and play in as a welcome respite from their urban environment.

The CRD has recognized that North Saanich should play the role of breadbasket and greenspace for the designated urban containment zones in Sidney and other locations on the Peninsula (see the CRD Regional Growth Strategy).

We can go round and round arguing about creating more affordable housing options but the truth is that North Saanich has one last chance to get this right and create an official community plan that absolutely prioritizes wildlife, shoreline integrity and farmland, or it can fall in line with all the other districts on the Peninsula who are being persuaded that the future consists of infill and new housing developments and the supporting commercial strips.

North Saanich can support young families and low-income earners by providing property tax incentives to first-time home buyers – why not take a page from Habitat for Humanity and ask first-time home buyers to contribute volunteer work hours for the community in exchange for a moratorium on property taxes or provide a community-subsidized mortgage option? There has to be a better way than just building more market housing that sets aside a few units at “low income prices.”

The world is changing, and with increased population pressures comes increased food and water requirements. We have the opportunity and the CRD’s blessing to become the provider rather than the consumer.

Carrie Spencer

North Saanich