Contacting North Saanich Council to protect agricultural and rural land


Dear North Saanich Resident,

We are happy to provide you with more information about the upcoming Public Hearing on the Regional Context Statement (RCS) Amendment and two rezoning applications (and related matters) to be held on Monday July 14th at 7:00 pm at the Mary Winspear Centre in Sidney. You will find the official notice at the bottom of this message; double-click on the image if you’d like to read it.

This is our last chance to have our voices heard on the proposed Official Community Plan (OCP) changes which would allow for urban densities in NS. We strongly urge all NS residents to come out to this Public Hearing and express your opinion on the proposal to allow:

  • up to 520 new housing units (that’s adding 10% of the total number of NS households) in the next five years
  • an increase in construction in NS from an average 45 units/year to 160 units/year
  • average densities proposed in the two areas (totaling about 180 acres) will be 8 to 16 units per acre, but densities could be as high as 30 units/acre

Council has indicated that they will vote on this drastic change to our community’s direction that night, so it is crucial that all NS residents participate in this democratic process.

 

What can you do?

There are a number of ways for you to express your views to Mayor and Council about the RCS Amendment, the rezoning applications and the process that has led to this point, bearing in mind that they cannot consider any new information following the close of the Public Hearings on Monday July 14th.

  • Attend the Public Hearing on Monday July 14th at 7:00 pm.
  • Speak at the Public Hearing – your comments may be as short or long as you like. We strongly encourage you to take that opportunity to speak, even if only to say that you want Council to reject Bylaw 1352 until an OCP Review can be carried out. Attending and speaking (even just a few words about your opinion) at the meeting may be the most important way you can let your wishes be known.

Numbers are very important, and our Council needs to know how many NS residents are opposed to this Amendment. If you have an opinion on the issue, please express it at the Public Hearing.

  • Phone your Mayor and Council to discuss the issues; contact info follows
  • Email your Mayor and Council; contact info follows
  • Write a letter to your Mayor and Council at admin@northsaanich.ca If you sent a letter to the CRD expressing your concerns, and did not also send it to NS Mayor and Council at admin@northsaanich.ca, we encourage you to do so now. (You may consider modifying it slightly if it contains references to the CRD.) You could also send it to each individual councillor at the addresses below.

Councillor Craig Mearns 250-656-1173 craigmearns@shaw.ca
Councillor Conny McBride 250-655-3648 c.mcbride@shaw.ca
Councillor Ted Daly 250-656-8700 teddaly@shaw.ca
Councillor Dunstan Browne 250-655-4811 hdbrowne@shaw.ca
Councillor Celia Stock 250-655-3437 CStock@northsaanich.ca
Councillor Elsie McMurphy 250-656-2705 emcmurphy@northsaanich.ca
Mayor Alice Finall 250-656-6668 AFinall@northsaanich.ca

Please forward this important message to all your North Saanich contacts and ask them to get involved too – you will help spread the word!

 

What is the message Council needs to hear?

  • Council needs to hear how you feel about the proposed changes, and how you think it will affect you and your lifestyle. Rural ambience and traffic congestion are two areas of immediate concern.
  • Council has a duty to represent the majority of NS residents, and the majority of NS residents want North Saanich to stay rural.
  • Council needs to know that the voters will remember any councillor who votes in favour of the amendment to urbanize NS, and we will replace them at the next election with someone who supports our OCP and rural vision.
  • The main point to be repeated is that the issue requires a proper OCP review and that a single public hearing is not appropriate for the magnitude of change, nor is it appropriate for Council to be making that change based on their own opinions.

 

How does a Public Hearing work?

There will be microphones set up for speakers. You do not need to register to speak, nor do you need to be a NS resident. Simply line up at the microphone. We hope everyone will take the opportunity to speak, even briefly, so that Council knows that NS residents do not support this level of urbanization.

Seven public hearings are actually scheduled for this meeting, which cover seven related bylaws — they will be held concurrently which means you may speak about one issue or all seven in any order you choose. Bylaw 1352, the most significant of the seven, relates to the North Saanich Official Community Plan Regional Context Statement (RCS) Amendment which will allow for significantly higher residential densities in two areas. The RCS Amendment is substantial — an increase of up to 520 housing units in two areas of North Saanich over 5 years. This is a significant change to our Official Community Plan.

The remaining six bylaws that will be considered on Monday evening cannot go ahead without approval of the RCS Amendment (the above noted Bylaw 1352). It is worth noting that Bylaw 1344 refers to a rezoning application to enable the development of 99 lots with single-family dwellings and 11 carriage houses on rural-agricultural land. Bylaw 1320 refers to a 54-unit condominium development. A 70-unit condominium application on land zoned rural-agricultural on Lochside Drive is also in the works.

Another 40 units are already being built under an earlier application that escaped this process of scrutiny.

 

What are the concerns?

Numerous, well-informed concerns have been raised by North Saanich residents in letters to Council and in the over 220 letters sent by NS residents to the CRD. The concerns include:

  • a seriously flawed consultation process
  • a significant change to the OCP without adequate consultation
  • loss of previously farmed rural-agricultural land
  • the right of residents to have their OCP respected
  • decisions being based on false or shoddy information
  • the North Saanich rural-residential lifestyle under threat
  • departure from the traditional slow/moderate growth
  • an increase in building from an average 45 units/year to 160 units/year
  • average densities proposed in the two areas will be 8 to 16 units per acre, but densities could be as high as 30 units/acre
  • lack of any affordable housing policies
  • lack of certainty that this RCS Amendment will actually provide any truly affordable housing
  • lack of traffic and environmental studies
  • increased costs of urbanization to all residents through higher taxes (rural municipalities always have lower taxes than urban ones)
  • and more…

 

Where can I get more information?

More information is available at the District of North Saanich website:

http://www.northsaanich.ca/Municipal_Hall/Departments/Planning_and_Community_Services/Regional_Context_Statement_Amendment.htm and http://www.northsaanich.ca/Welcome_to_North_Saanich.htm.

The North Saanich Community Voices website contains a great deal of relevant information, and can be found here: www.nscv.ca.

Please come out and speak at the Public Hearing on Monday, July 14 at 7:00 p.m. at the Mary Winspear Centre. If you can’t make it that night, please find another way to let Council know how you feel about this significant change proposed for our community direction. This is our last chance to stop what will likely lead to the urbanization of North Saanich.

Our municipality is a beautiful, precious and unique place – let’s do all we can to keep it that way.

Remember – changes of this magnitude require an OCP review by all residents – tell Council that!

Thanks for your continued interest in North Saanich issues. We hope to see and hear from you on Monday July 14th at the Mary Winspear Centre.

 

Heather Gartshore, Bernadette Greene, Springfield Harrison and Jack Thornburgh

North Saanich Community Voices

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