LETTER: Public hearing filled with development proposals

Is it not surprising and unusual (Saanich News June 8) that there are three major development proposals in a public hearing (PH) before Saanich council on June 21?

At any committee of the whole (CoW) which must precede a PH, some local residents being aware of a particular project, express their views in correspondence. However, much correspondence is received from those not living nearby, or even in Saanich, so less aware or affected by local implications, such correspondence can also include ‘form‘ letters collated by the developer. Major decisions on every particular development require time to fully analyze the concerns of local residents: they are after all the ones living in the vicinity.

In cases where major amendments to the OCP – zoning, height, and variances for setbacks, parking, etc. – are requested by the developer, it is questionable why these proposals were recommended by the CoW for a public hearing. Sadly too, this leads to a perception that once at the PH, the proposals will be rubber-stamped, and on occasions, against Planning’s recommendation. Time will tell in the three on June 21.

It is also of great concern on a recommendation from the mayor’s standing committee on housing affordability and supply (but with no public engagement), that until the strategic OCP update is complete, council is open to consider proposals up to six storeys along major corridors and up to 12 for purpose-built rentals or purchased secured units, that are 20 per cent below market rates for at least 10 per cent of the units.

Similarly, six storeys (from maximum four) in neighborhood-designated areas with close proximity to transit and services: neither of these motions appreciably improve affordability, but come at the price of giving developers profitable bonus density, and undermine staff’s preparation of the strategic plan update.

More important is the excellent/responsible council-approved motion (April 25) to expedite application timelines for not-for-profit, government and co-op housing agencies. This is the only way to provide truly affordable housing to the community.

Fiona and Colin Millard