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B.C. buying Saanich property for new transit-oriented housing development

Uptown neighbourhood development to include hundreds of new homes
B.C. Premier David Eby makes an affordable housing announcement in Saanich on April 8, 2024. (Bailey Seymour/News Staff)

The provincial government announced the purchase of two parcels of land in Saanich and changes in policy in an effort to build more transit-oriented affordable housing developments.

On Monday, April 8, Premier David Eby, along with Transportation Minister Rob Fleming and Saanich Mayor Dean Murdock, announced the new housing planned at the Uptown area of Saanich.

“For way too long, government has seen transit infrastructure like a solar eclipse, something they didn’t want to look directly at,” said Eby. “I am incredibly excited to be here today, to be standing at the heart of what will be the province’s first, transit-oriented development with housing, hundreds of units with amenities, public amenities, including improvements to trails and public spaces.”

The two land parcels, which are next to the Galloping Goose Trail and close to more than 10 bus routes, were bought through the Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure’s $394 million property acquisition fund laid out in the 2023 budget.

The first property, currently occupied by Budget Rent-A-Car on Harriet Road, was purchased for $7.5 million, and the second, previously occupied by Ryzuk Geotechnical, cost just over $1.8 million.

Eby said in the past, when the government spent money on additional transit, property values that are adjacent to the transit quickly rose, and those who use and depend on transit are often priced out of living closest to it.

In addition to the new government development, the province will also expedite permitting for housing and development near transit hubs.

While plans for the site are still in early development, the proposal will be in alignment with Saanich’s Uptown-Douglas Plan, which includes multiple buildings with hundreds of housing units, public gathering spaces, active-transportation connections, retail and commercial space, and potential for amenities, such as child care, community-health facilities and educational services.

“Saanich has long known the potential of this significant corridor which really sits at the crossroads of the South Island,” said Murdock. “It’s close to regional trails, it facilitates connections to those travelling from the West Shore, from the Peninsula, from downtown or towards the University of Victoria, and it is a key transportation and mobility hub. It’s a perfect location for high-density transit-oriented development.”

Bailey Seymour

About the Author: Bailey Seymour

After graduating from SAIT and stint with the Calgary Herald, I ended up at the Nanaimo News Bulletin/Ladysmith Chronicle in March 2023
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