Per a 2020 Housing Needs Report, the District of Saanich’s housing market isn’t accessible to most residents and the current housing supply doesn’t meet the diverse needs of the community. (Derek Ford/District of Saanich)

Per a 2020 Housing Needs Report, the District of Saanich’s housing market isn’t accessible to most residents and the current housing supply doesn’t meet the diverse needs of the community. (Derek Ford/District of Saanich)

Saanich calls for public input on housing task force recommendations

Report lists 74 recommendations to address district’s housing crisis

Saanich residents are invited to weigh in on the 74 housing strategies recommended by the housing strategy task force.

During a meeting on March 22, council received a report from the housing strategy task force which included 74 recommendations to help Saanich bring more affordable housing to the municipality. The task force, led by Couns. Zac de Vries and Karen Harper, comprised of 18 members who volunteered to develop strategies to tackle the region’s housing challenges. Council accepted the report for information and sent it to a public survey.

READ ALSO: Saanich task force proposes more than 70 recommendations to address housing crisis

Residents were invited to weigh in on the report at the meeting. Some raised concerns about the composition of the task force – two developers were included – the mention of considering areas outside the Urban Containment Boundary (UCB) for housing developments and what they felt was not enough consultation.

“Planning for growth requires some of the suggestions noted in the report, however, it also requires appropriate consultation,” said resident Katherine Whitworth.

Other speakers praised the report, commending the call for a wider variety of housing, densification in urban centres and clarity for developers.

“Housing defines who lives in our community and council’s commitment to pursuing a diversity of housing in all areas of Saanich is both morally and economically commendable,” said Mark Holland, resident and academic representative on the task force.

READ ALSO: New report highlights need for diverse, affordable housing in Saanich

Coun. Nathalie Chambers was pleased to see the completion of the report but had reservations about revising the district’s Development Cost Charges Reduction Bylaw and considering housing proposals outside the UCB.

Until Saanich implements new environmental protections, council should not consider housing recommendations from developers, she said, referencing the development sector representatives included on the task force. Chambers hopes to see further discussions focused on housing affordability.

Residents have until April 30 to share their thoughts on the task force’s recommendations through the survey available at saanich.ca. The task force report and public feedback will be used to develop the final housing strategy which is expected to come to council in June.


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devon.bidal@saanichnews.com

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