What is the direction of the Saanich Peninsula? A sample of local decision makers suggests land use, transportation and health care will loom large in 2020. (Wolf Depner/News Staff)

What is the direction of the Saanich Peninsula? A sample of local decision makers suggests land use, transportation and health care will loom large in 2020. (Wolf Depner/News Staff)

Land use, transportation and health care loom large in 2020 on Saanich Peninsula

Region has among the longest wait times for walk-in clinics

Land use, transportation and health care are among the biggest issue facing Saanich Peninsula residents heading into 2020, according to a sampling of local decision makers.

Speaking with the Peninsula News Review, North Saanich Mayor Geoff Orr said his community is still trying to decide how it wants to evolve, a question that he believes also faces the rest of region.

“That gets right back to the best and highest use of land,” he said. “All [the things] we want to do on land are related to that notion of highest and best use – if that is to house people, if that is to grow food, if that is to build facilities or places, where people can gather, place-making to develop community — all those things relate to how we want to use land.”

Orr said the challenge facing North Saanich specifically and the region generally is to communicate the level of participation in each of those sectors.

“What are we doing as a Peninsula in these areas?” he asked. “Do we have agreement that North Saanich is really looking to continue to develop our agriculture and marine small business, but at the same time being cognizant that we need to contribute to some degree to the housing sector, and Sidney can take more [housing] and Central Saanich is bit of a hybrid.”

Orr said that the level of dialogue with the other mayors — Sidney’s Cliff McNeil-Smith and Central Saanich’s Ryan Windsor — has been quite strong.

“That helps to really put those things on the table,” he said. “Those are the things that we talk about when we get together – what are those high level, common initiatives that we can advocate for and have a cohesive approach to the degree that we can’t be entirely aligned with everything. That will be quite good by the time we exit [the second and third year] of this term.”

One issue that unites the Peninsula is transportation, with Highway 17 running through all three communities.

On the positive side, plans for a highway overpass estimated to cost at least $44 million at Keating Cross Road appear on track, according to Windsor, who predicts that it will dramatically improve access and egress off Highway 17, with benefits for safety and economic development.

But if this project promises to address a long-running transportation issue, another transportation issue remains on the mind of many: the state of public transit connecting the three communities with each other and the rest of Greater Victoria, including key facilities such as Victoria International Airport and the BC Ferry Terminal at Swartz Bay.

One issue looming large for local MLA Adam Olsen in 2020 is the expansion of primary care.

“Our system has always had a pretty good reputation for the ability to deal with people who are in a time of crisis,” he said. “If you have a heart attack in this province, you get looked after very well. It’s access to primary care, which has always been a problem — dealing with prevention and wellness and making sure that we stay ahead.”

Olsen said the provincial government pats itself on the back for its investments into urgent care facilities. “They fill a certain type of need,” he said. “But what I hear from my constituents and from what I hear from some of the health care professionals out there, we need less of the urgent care centres and more access to primary care, to a family practitioner of one type or another.”

RELATED: Sidney has highest walk-in clinic wait times in the country: report

Olsen raised this issue in his year-end-interview with the Peninsula News Review just days after the provincial government announced the opening of a primary health care centre in Victoria’s James Bay and after Olsen had also raised the issue in the Legislative Assembly, asking Health Minister Adrian Dix about the delay in extending the provincial primary care network into the region.

Dix, for his part, cited the opening of the James Bay clinic and promised additional measures that would “methodically, step by step” expand the network into different communities.

Olsen described Dix’s answer as “fairly promising” and said later that this issue is not just a matter of having the right party membership. “It is easy to look at this say, ‘Oh, if this were an NDP riding, it would be done,” said Olsen. “I don’t think so. It’s more complex than that. And even with bringing a primary care network in, it doesn’t mean that there are more people working until they actually hire more people.”

Within this context, Olsen praised the work of the Saanich Peninsula Hospital and Healthcare Foundation in working with the non-profit Shoreline Medical Society to open clinics in Sidney and Brentwood Bay. “They are changing the way it [primary care] is delivered,” he said. “At the same time, the government needs to put more funding in the system.”

Sidney has the longest waiting time in the province to see a doctor at a walk-in clinic, according to a new report that found seven of the top 10 longest wait times in Canada are in B.C., with Sidney topping the list at 180 minutes and Pitt Meadows second in the province at 100 minutes.

Vancouver Island had especially bad wait times with people in Langford waiting 98 minutes, those in Saanichton waiting 90, Victoria waiting 82 minutes and Nanaimo residents waiting for 79 minutes.

wolfgang.depner@peninsulanewsreview.com

Just Posted

The barred owl is the most likely to be spotted in the south Island. (Ann Nightingale photo)
Barred owls dominate Greater Victoria owl-scape

Western screech owl population decimated, partly due to barred owls

Between June 1 and 7, 168 net unconditional sales were made for properties in the VREB region. (Black Press Media file photo)
Victoria home sales slightly behind last June’s pace

Benchmark value of single-family home in Greater Victoria tops $1 million

Police monitor protesters at a blockade in the Fairy Creek area of southwestern Vancouver Island on Wednesday, June 9. (Facebook photo)
8 old-growth logging protesters arrested in Fairy Creek watershed Friday

A total of 214 people have been arrested as of June 11

A new report pegs the annual cost of hiring a third party to monitor use of pickleball courts in North Saanich at $12,000. (Black Press Media file photo).
North Saanich could end up hiring third party to monitor pickleball courts

Other options up for consideration include use of cameras and timed locks

A temporary urgent and primary care centre will open in Esquimalt this week, offering residents more health care options in their own community. (Black Press Media file)
Esquimalt’s temporary urgent and primary care centre to open Monday

The Esquimalt Health Unit will house the temporary site, permanent location opening in December

At an outdoor drive-in convocation ceremony, Mount Royal University bestows an honorary Doctor of Laws on Blackfoot Elder and residential school survivor Clarence Wolfleg in Calgary on Tuesday, June 8, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh
‘You didn’t get the best of me’: Residential school survivor gets honorary doctorate

Clarence Wolfleg receives honorary doctorate from Mount Royal University, the highest honour the school gives out

A million-dollar ticket was sold to an individual in Vernon from the Lotto Max draw Friday, June 11, 2021. (Photo courtesy of BCLC)
Lottery ticket worth $1 million sold in Vernon

One lucky individual holds one of 20 tickets worth $1 million from Friday’s Lotto Max draw

“65 years, I’ve carried the stories in my mind and live it every day,” says Jack Kruger. (Athena Bonneau)
‘Maybe this time they will listen’: Survivor shares stories from B.C. residential school

Jack Kruger, living in Syilx territory, wasn’t surprised by news of 215 children’s remains found on the grounds of the former Kamloops Indian Residential School

A logging truck carries its load down the Elaho Valley near in Squamish, B.C. in this file photo. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chuck Stoody
Squamish Nation calls for old-growth logging moratorium in its territory

The nation says 44% of old-growth forests in its 6,900-square kilometre territory are protected while the rest remain at risk

Flowers and cards are left at a makeshift memorial at a monument outside the former Kamloops Indian Residential School to honour the 215 children whose remains are believed to have been discovered buried near the city in Kamloops, B.C., on Monday, May 31, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
‘Pick a Sunday:’ Indigenous leaders ask Catholics to stay home, push for apology

Indigenous leaders are calling on Catholics to stand in solidarity with residential school survivors by not attending church services

“They will never be forgotten, every child matters,” says Sioux Valley Chief Jennifer Bone in a video statement June 1. (Screen grab)
104 ‘potential graves’ detected at site of former residential school in Manitoba

Sioux Valley Dakota Nation working to identify, repatriate students buried near former Brandon residential school

The Queen Victoria statue at the B.C. legislature was splattered with what looks like red paint on Friday. (Nicole Crescenzi/News Staff)
Queen Victoria statue at B.C. legislature vandalized Friday

Statue splattered with red paint by old growth forest proponents

Police cars are seen parked outside Vancouver Police Department headquarters on Saturday, January 9, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
Vancouver police officer charged with assault during an arrest in 2019

The service has released no other details about the allegations

Denmark’s Christian Eriksen receives medical attention after collapsing during the Euro 2020 soccer championship group B match between Denmark and Finland at Parken stadium in Copenhagen, Saturday, June 12, 2021. (AP Photo/Martin Meissner, Pool)
Christian Eriksen in stable condition, Euro 2020 match resumes

Eriksen was given chest compressions after collapsing on the field during a European Championship

Most Read