It was great to see so many neighbours turn out for the Cadboro Bay Local Area Plan (LAP) workshop on June 11, though opinions certainly varied. Many people had questions or concerns for Saanich staff, but a few just seemed upset that things can’t remain as they are. The truth is Cadboro Bay is already changing: it’s not a question of if, but of how many will benefit.
The population of Cadboro Bay has been stable for decades, but the number of households with younger adults and young children has declined. Around the neighbourhood, modest older houses are being replaced by massive new ones. These are changes, but they don’t particularly improve the community. They don’t contribute new amenities or more customers for village businesses; they don’t produce more kids to attend Frank Hobbs school or get their first job at Pepper’s, or volunteers to support community activities.
Cadboro Bay residents are typically older and wealthier than the rest of Saanich, and fewer households have young children. The reason is obvious: the biggest gap in our neighbourhood demographic pyramid is Gen X and Millennial adults aged 25-49. This cohort has younger kids and incomes that can’t keep pace with the surging cost of housing. They are typically happy to embrace more sustainable housing forms such as townhouses and apartments, they drive less, and own fewer cars. And many would jump at the chance to live just a few hundred metres from UVic, the second largest employer in the CRD.
We need moderate growth in Cadboro Bay because it’s the best way to sustain a vibrant community. Large detached homes will always be part of this area, but they cannot be its only future. Shifting the village centre uphill away from the rising sea, permitting low-rise buildings along busier streets, and allowing older housing stock around UVic to be replaced with multi-home buildings right where they’re needed – these are positive changes for everyone in Cadboro Bay. As a community, I hope we support them, because these changes will support our community, too.