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LETTER: Saanich’s housing strategy leads to conflicting policies

As stated in its Housing Strategy Task Force Final Report (March 2021), which is available for public input until April 30, Saanich council has stated it’s looking at evidence-based solutions. However, after reading the actions proposed in the report and seeing physical results from recent council policy decisions, I wonder if council has accurate data for these purposes, and if so, if any council members have read it.

Much of this report focuses on housing affordability and proposes solutions on how to shoehorn more people into ever smaller spaces, although not yet as small as morgue body refrigerators, although some neighbourhoods might feel that way.

The report often cites increasing density throughout the municipality as a route to affordable housing. The recent move by Saanich council to allow up to six unrelated adults to live in one residence, was one such implementation. Now, in rental-prevalent areas, such as those around post-secondary institutions, despite many homes having long driveways and/or garages, roads around homes resemble parking lots.

Much of the proposed development in Saanich seems rooted in the idea that very few adults own cars. For example, not even one parking spot per unit has been allocated in the multi-family units being built around University Heights. This planning flies in the face of council’s claim it’s making evidence-based solutions given that as of 2017 half of all households in the CRD had at least one vehicle per household member represented (2017 CRD Origin Destination Household Travel Survey).

Implementing policies that create more vehicles parked on roads, many that lack sidewalks, directly conflicts with council’s other baby: creating walkable/bikeable communities. Indeed, this glut has resulted in council proposing 30 km/h zones citing human safety from vehicular traffic.

Before implementing more “solutions,” council really needs to recognize that for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction. It is possible to both work towards a better future while living in the world as it is.

Implementing the proposed solutions in the report will affect all Saanich residents. Given the short turnaround for feedback, let the municipality know your thoughts soon either via the survey (available at saanich.ca) or email.

Katherine Williams

Saanich

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