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LETTER: Report highlights development-driven agenda for North Saanich

It’s hardly surprising that the Urban Development Institute, a group of developers with a high-minded label, has issued a “report” promoting wholesale construction in North Saanich; “development” is the institute’s middle name.

But what is surprising – and has so far gone unmentioned – is the fact that the report was written in response to the district’s solicitation, and was submitted to the district’s project team on May 5 at the district’s invitation. Two weeks later, it still awaits council’s attention.

But having read it myself – and also seen the project team’s truly horrific May 19 “Emerging Concepts” Zoom presentation – it’s become graphically and painfully apparent what the district plans for our future – triplexes in Deep Cove? Four storeys on McTavish? – and ever more clear where they’re finding their inspiration.

On April 29, district planner Brian Green summarily dismissed a members’ survey from the North Saanich Residents’ Association, writing “…we only use input that is gained from engagement activities that the project team has developed …”

In contrast, district communications manager Rebecca Penz welcomed the UDI report when quoted in these pages on May 20: “The Urban Development Institute feedback will be considered as part of the … engagement.”

See a difference?

Truth is, developers have always been involved in this OCP review; they’ve been characterized as “stakeholders” from the start. At least two companies were invited to attend a closed May 18 Zoom design workshop even as the public – and all recording devices – were shut out. And the project team’s written materials are reliably skewed toward development. But the question of bias has been repeatedly raised to council and repeatedly dismissed.

So perhaps there’s nothing left to do but remind our representatives that the citizens of North Saanich won this battle in 2007 and – turning the last development-driven council out in 2016 – overwhelmingly won it again. Councillors: You’re better than this; please remember why you were elected. Citizens: Go to connectnorthsaanich.ca, review their mind-boggling plan, then step up again and save North Saanich.

Don Enright

North Saanich