Wednesday December 16, 2020 | CENTRAL SAANICH, BC
by Kiley Verbowski | Island Social Trends | Mary P Brooke, editor
Community consultation about zoning regulations for various types of infill housing in the District of Central Saanich is ongoing. A virtual info session was held on Friday November 27 to communicate phase three findings to concerned residents before entering phase four, which includes consultation with city council and changing the bylaws.
The Residential Infill and Densification project began in the spring of 2018 with community conversations about a variety of housing options that “meet community needs while being sensitive to the character of Central Saanich,” said Andrea Pickard, a District planner.
The proposed project:
The project is designed to introduce small additional housing units in the neighbourhoods of Tanner Hill, Brentwood, and Saanichton on existing lots.
Affordable housing, rental units, and options for seniors to age in place are some needs that are being addressed.
The proposed housing zones include small lots and R-1XS, accessory cottages and carriage houses, panhandle lots, duplexes, pocket neighbourhoods and small-scale multi-units (up to eight units), and Brentwood and Saanichton commercial cores.
After hosting open houses and gathering feedback through a survey, the District offered draft guidelines and policies in the summer of 2019. The District is now working on a report to share with council that is expected to be presented in early 2021. The proposal will then go through a public hearing process.
New policy directions:
Within existing neighbourhoods, the new policy supports a range of infill developments including 1-storey accessory cottages, small lots, and multi-use developments up to eight units.
Smaller lots are mainly being proposed in Brentwood Bay for duplexes, to encourage attainable home ownership.
The policy supports buildings up to five storeys in Brentwood Bay and Saanichton Village, or taller if it is intended for affordable housing.
Multi-family housing close to services and transit is supported, as are 2-storey carriage houses on rural land.
Recent housing data:
Pickard presented date that showed Central Saanich has 80% home ownership rates which is very high.
The median income in Central Saanich is around 24% higher than the CRD, but renter household incomes are half that of owners. Vacancy rates for rental housing is very low at 0.6%, demonstrating the need for affordable and rental housing.
Currently, a household needs to earn $150,000/year to purchase an affordable single-family home in Central Saanich.
The largest local housing needs are for affordable and rental market homes, followed by housing for persons with disabilities, seniors, families, and the unhoused.
Virtual session discussion questions:
The presentation was followed by a Q and A session.
One attendee asked about increased property taxes due to infill construction. Pickard replied that taxes are determined by an official property assessment, and are determined by a range of property and home improvements. New tax rates would have to be determined on a lot by lot basis.
Another concern was raised about a bylaw that states for every tree removed, three must be planted. In the case of infill construction removing trees, it is most favourable for the replacement trees to be planted elsewhere on the property. If this is not possible, a fee can be paid to the District that will contribute to the municipal tree planting fund.
Two in-person info sessions were cancelled in late November due to new lockdown restrictions, but due to public interest, another virtual session may be planned for an evening in the near future. Any questions about the project can be directed to email@example.com.
The virtual info session via zoom was recorded and will be posted on the Central Saanich website.
==== About the writer: Kiley Verbowski, BA, is a writer based in Victoria, BC who contributes on a wide variety of topics for Island Social Trends.