Regional Growth Strategy


I read with great interest the Times-Colonist article by reporter Kim Westad about the CRD Board's recent decision to support Saanich Councilor Vic Derman's motion to re-examine a variety of development projects in Central Saanich, suggesting that recent Council land use decisions may contravene the provisions of the Regional Growth Strategy. As you know, I have always supported the Strategy, believing that it is one of the few tools we have to contain urban sprawl from creeping into rural and agricultural lands. In my opinion, the Strategy has helped, among other things, to protect rural communities such as North Saanich from ad hoc, shortsighted land use that demonstrates little regard for long term negative impacts on such factors as costs to taxpayers of providing more services, more resources and more infrastructure to support urban-style development.

I have heard the arguments time and again from those who want more development and less land use oversight -- "...development will increase our tax base, provide "affordable" housing and improve local economies..." "'s not our business to meddle in the affairs of other municipalities or communities..." "the Strategy threatens property rights..." and so on. In response, I can only say that in my experience, wherever there has been large scale development that is either unplanned or poorly planned, individual residential property taxes have not necessarily decreased, adequate "affordable" housing has, more often than not, failed to materialize and improvement to local economies has been difficult to quantify. If all the arguments to support unchecked large scale development lined up, then I must ask why residential property taxes on average are higher in communities where development has been a primary driver?

Regional sustainability should concern all of us, whether we happen to live in Metchosin, North Saanich or Victoria. I believe that without a framework such as the Strategy, protection of our natural resources and green/blue spaces, transportation, climate change, local agriculture, food security and other quality of life issues and needs become much more difficult to manage and address. Whether you agree or disagree with Councilor Derman's motion and the decision of the CRD Board, it is evident to me that ad hoc land use planning on a regional basis poses challenges for all of us living here; nor do land use decisions and their implications necessarily respect municipal boundaries -- our communities simply do not exist in isolation of one another. Just ask North Saanich residents living on the municipal border next door to the proposed Vantreight development.

Whatever the outcome for Central Saanich, let's hope that the Regional Growth Strategy and its values can prevail -- after all, our future depends on it.