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LETTER: OCP needs a balanced, long-term perspective

I would like to weigh in on the letter “Housing options needed to make North Saanich complete” regarding the development of North Saanich’s draft official community plan (OCP) where the writer implied that our area is “incomplete” without increased development. North Saanich is already a complete vibrant and caring community; one that continues to evolve and do its part locally in meeting the challenges around housing.

Further, for the writer to imply that many living here are a rich elite is making a broad-brush assumption. Like anywhere, many may be “house rich” due to rising prices but this has little to do with, for example, retirees living on a fixed income and who just want to stay here for its rural, uncongested beauty.

No one should be paying more than 30 or even 40 per cent of their income for a place to live, but will these housing costs abate simply by adding more development? In answering this, it’s important first to acknowledge that there are large forces driving an inflated housing market, not just here, but all across Canada where housing continues its relentless climb no matter how many more developments are added.

The writer also claimed that a so-called “populist” movement had derailed the OCP process, but it’s not a stretch to say that it was already unbalanced, being unduly influenced early on by short-term profit-driven forces rather than receiving a more balanced long-term perspective that comes with a holistic, legitimately vetted community vision. The framers of previous OCPs likely also recognized the need for a balanced process, being wary that unbridled growth risks the community’s long-term quality-of-life aspects, or possibly leading to greatly increased property taxes because of the additional services and infrastructure that necessarily go with growth.

In any event, whether anyone is for, against, or somewhere in the middle on the question of ramped-up development being part of the new OCP, the main issue now seems to be more about having a framework that encourages and accepts a broader community input, whatever the outcome may be.

Jeff Stanhope

North Saanich