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Request for more information on OCP review a good sign, say North Saanich residents

Council last week refused to accept official community plan summary report as drafted
The president of the North Saanich Residents Association said the organization’s leadership welcomes recent changes to the official community plan review unfolding in that community. (Photo by Paige Gibson)

The North Saanich Residents Association welcomes recent changes to the official community plan review unfolding in that community.

Association president John Kafka, speaking for the board of directors, said council’s request for additional information from consultants handling the OCP review process represents a “promising first step.”

The request focused on the emergence of six broad themes laid out in the summary report.

They include what the consultant calls “sensitive infilling” to supply more diverse forms of housing (including housing for seniors to age in place), a community hub in the Deep Cove neighbourhood and the development of a village centre around the McTavish and East Saanich roads intersection.

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Critics have questioned how these concepts emerged, with a broader critique seeing the OCP review as a push for more housing. Independent research has found that North Saanich lacks housing affordable for certain demographic groups.

A number of voices in the community, including members of council, have made a case for additional such housing. Other members of council, however, have questioned this direction and public opposition to the process appears significant.

As many as 275 people attended the Save North Saanich rally last week criticizing the review process, according to the lobby group. Others, including Kafka, peg the number higher. The municipality received almost 300 pieces of correspondence around the OCP review, with opponents overwhelmingly outweighing proponents.

RELATED: North Saanich unaffordable for most households with children

“The public trust in the process was being questioned, participants were not seeing how their input through letters to (council) and comments at (pop-up) events were being considered,” Kafka said. “So, (council’s) decision to pause and request further information from the (consultant) is welcomed.”

It also appears to signal a willingness for council to get more directly involved in the process, he added.

The association hopes council and the consultant will be more responsive to community concerns following the rally and public feedback, Kafka said.

“The (directors) are cautiously optimistic that a process which was so divisive will change to one in which community aspirations and comments are valued and reflected in the process.”

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Wolf Depner

About the Author: Wolf Depner

I joined the national team with Black Press Media in 2023 from the Peninsula News Review, where I had reported on Vancouver Island's Saanich Peninsula since 2019.
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