Saanich council members met with representatives from the University of Victoria and Camosu College for a preliminary discussion regarding off-campus student behaviour. (Black Press Media file photo)

Saanich starts talks with UVic, Camosun over concerns about off-campus student housing

Council looks solve parking, rental issues raised at public hearing on unrelated occupancy

Saanich is sticking to its promise to look into homeowners’ concerns about the behaviour of some student renters in the municipality. Council members are in discussion with local post-secondary institutions to look at guiding landlords and students who rent housing off-campus.

Tensions between students and other residents spiked in June when council invited the public to weigh in on increasing the amount of unrelated people it allows to occupy a residence from four to six. After an all-day public hearing, council approved the increase and committed to addressing the concerns raised.

READ ALSO: Saanich council increases unrelated occupancy limit from four to six

The conversation started Aug. 13 between Coun. Zac de Vries, the university-municipal council liaison, and Mayor Fred Haynes had a preliminary meeting with representatives from the University of Victoria (UVic) and Camosun College via conference call.

“Council has heard the concerns about partying, parking, off-campus behaviour and unsightly properties” and is “grabbing the horns of the bull,” Haynes said.

The preliminary discussion with the post-secondary institutions was productive and collaborative, de Vries said. “We want to wrap our heads around solutions … and identify opportunities and pathways to build community.”

READ ALSO: Evicted UVic student questions Saanich’s housing bylaw

Heather Cummings, Camosun vice-president of student experience, said the college is pleased to work with Saanich to help students take an active role in “being engaged and responsible members of these communities.”

Jennifer Vornbrock, UVic executive director of community and government affairs, said the university is committed to collaborative work with surrounding municipalities and is “looking forward to building off of the recent productive meeting … as [they] explore new ways to support the growth of a welcoming community.”

De Vries said council will look at long-term rentals, landlords who don’t live on-site and on-street parking during the strategic plan check-in this fall.

READ ALSO: Saanich resident starts petition to oppose unrelated occupancy limit increase

Haynes said the next step is to involve the Saanich Community Association Network and the individual community associations.


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devon.bidal@saanichnews.com

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