The new program would be based on stewardship and working cooperatively with land owners, rather than restricting land use as is found under the current EDPA. I also believe that any new bylaw for developmental purposes should focus on rezonings. Single family zoned properties and agricultural properties should be exempt, and any activities on such properties need to be based on a voluntary opting in by the homeowners.


The recent report from Diamond Head has provided recommendations that could help to form the basis of a new and more cooperative, innovative, education-based approach to environmental protection. Elimination of the EDPA Atlas, removal of automatic buffer zones, removing Saanich’s exemption, clarifying the intent of the bylaw, creating both flexibility and clarity around EDPA guidelines, and creation of development incentives and flexibility for development projects are all important, positive and necessary recommendations.


Diamond Head was not allowed to consider a recommendation to rescind the EDPA. As such, their report is incomplete. They were not even able to directly acknowledge the significant feedback that they received about rescinding the bylaw. Based on their actual recommendations, they have come as close to recommending a restart, or rescinding of the EDPA as they could. It will be difficult to implement their recommendations without substantial time committed to how the new process would work. Hence the need for a restart on this issue.


Rebuilding the bylaw using the recommendations from the report, coupled with a full and thorough consultation of the affected and interested parties (including residents, developers, professional biologists, community associations and others), would allow for a more considered approach that would be more in line with the Official Community Plan (OCP) and encourage cooperation, education stewardship, incentives and innovation.





Affordable Housing



There is a lack of affordable housing in Saanich. This is not a problem that will be easily resolved, but links to the need for updated local area plans (LAPs). Fundamentally, the biggest issue in affordable housing is the cost of land.

First we need to identify where areas of greater density in housing can be placed, and we also need to identify the different types of housing that would allow for increased density. There are of course apartments, condominiums, and town homes, but we could be looking at reducing lots sizes in order to allow for smaller homes, perhaps also in a strata type situation.

There are several interesting proposals for single family dwellings on smaller city lot sizes that would be both affordable and environmentally sustainable that are in the planning stages. The LAPs need to clearly identify which type of housing will go where, and then proposals consistent with the updates LAP’s need to be expedited. This density also needs to be placed near transit in order to reduce the need for multiple family cars.

Secondly, we also need to be looking at a greater use of community amenity contributions - not as cash, but as a requirement in a rezoning, requiring a developer to provide lower income housing or rental housing in a building that would otherwise not have any. This is done by allowing increases in density and/or height in exchange for a specific proportion of lower income housing/rentals in the increased density. Saanich’s current fund for this purpose is under $500,000, and the only way to effectively get more affordable housing is through an effective use of community amenity contributions to create actual additional housing.




Amalgamation



I am in favour of a provincially funded, citizen-led, unbiased study of the current system of local government in the Capital Region District, including municipalities and CRD. It is clear that many of the problems facing us are regional. The regional board - CRD, has no ability to direct regional solutions, and is unaccountable, as it is not directly elected. There is also duplication of services between the CRD and the municipal level.


It is also clear that a significant portion of the local population want and need the information to make informed choices about regional and municipal governance. This was indicated in the positive vote in the last municipal elections. In the case of Saanich, the question was less than clear, and I believe that Saanich residents deserve the information that will allow them to make an informed choice on this matter. Whatever their decision, it should be respected.


The CRD was created over 50 years ago, and it is time for a thorough review of both it, its mandate, and how it fits within the local municipal structure.

At the end of the day, the simple question to be answered is - if we were setting up governance today in the region, is this what it would look like? I think not.


To learn more about my position on amalgamation, see my response to the Amalgamation Yes questionnaire.





Deer



Deer is a regional issue, which means that any solution will need to be regional to be effective. An example is the cull held in Oak Bay. It solved nothing, as deer do not recognize municipal boundaries. The longer that we wait, the worse the problem is going to get, for both people and deer. There are neighbourhoods in Saanich which are completely wired off to try to keep deer out of gardens, both garden and vegetable gardens. As well, deer are becoming sick due to overpopulation and food issues.

The deer overpopulation affects any meaningful ability for Saanich to become more sustainable in food production, particularly for individual home owners who would like to grow more of their own food. Fencing is very expensive, and that cost is an impediment to vegetable gardening for some.

Most importantly, we need to ensure a proactive approach on a go-forward basis. The CRD should immediately start a program of deer contraception, while metrics are developed on how much the deer population has grown in the last fifteen years. Then a combination of relocation and culling needs to be explored, in order to get the number of deer to a level that is sustainable for both the deer and the community. If culling is chosen as an option, we also need to ensure that the meat is not wasted.




Bike Lanes



I believe that we should use Saanich's existing infrastructure and roads and encourage cycling on the secondary roads. At this point, new bike lanes on main streets in Saanich do not justify the investment because, as far as I can see, bike lanes that have been previously built in Saanich are not well used.


I believe that Vancouver's system of cycling lanes/paths one or two blocks over from the main roads is potentially a better solution because it costs very little and doesn't cause additional traffic issues. Only downtown Vancouver has more formal bike lanes, while Greater Vancouver doesn't have separate bike lanes. Instead, cyclists use an excellent network of secondary roads. I'm very familiar with that system because I biked to work from Burnaby to downtown every day for five years.


I also biked to work daily in Victoria for ten years until I retired, and found the secondary road solution satisfying, and far more pleasurable. I still cycle, and I don’t use bike lanes if I can avoid them. I use secondary roads whenever possible as I find they are more pleasant to ride on.