On January 14th, there will be a meeting at Central Saanich Town Hall to determine whether or not to amend the Official Community Plan and send the Vantreight families Hill Development proposal to a public hearing. I will be attending this meeting to voice my support to amend the OCP, and my support for the development to be approved by the Mayor and Council.

The rational behind my support:

When I first read about the Hill Development in the Peninsula review, I was excited to hear about something happening out here on the Peninsula, but was disappointed in the way it was presented. I’ve stated many times publicly, I don’t believe projects ought to be passed based on the need of the applicant. All projects should be judged on their merits alone. Specifically, I call projects pitched in this manner “pity proposals”.

Being fair to the Vantreights, I know first hand how newspapers can misconstrue stories and perhaps this may have been taken out of context.

Since that newspaper story, I’ve heard about the excellent merits of the project and was impressed by all the innovation and creativity the Vantreights put into this proposal. It will be utilizing the waste created by the new residents in their farming operations, have green roofs and reuse runoff water to name a few of the features. They are clearly very passionate about the Hill Development and have put a lot of thought into it!

Some additional facts:
- No added infrastructure is required. Central Saanich currently has a water supply that can handle 28 000 residents and Sewers that can handle 16 800 residents. (According to 2006 Census population is at 15 745).
- Will potentially generate Tax revenue for the Municipality of $1,009,615.
- Adds 16 acres of public park land.
- Will be at least LEED Gold Certified (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design)

Not to mention the local businesses of the area will benefit greatly, especially the new Saanichton Village. The influx of customers will create jobs and help local business owners prosper. Currently, Saanichton Village is underutilized. The buildings are outdated, it is not pedestrian friendly and half the village consists of parking lots. This development would be a great first step in creating a bustling village center in the heart of Central Saanich!

It is important to remember we are in the midst of an affordable housing crisis and Mayor and Council ought to be addressing this colossal issue! I’m not talking about subsidized housing, I’m talking about addressing the shortage of supply of houses on the Peninsula. Houses, like any commodity, are subject to the laws of supply and demand. When supply is greater than demand, prices go down, when supply equals demand, prices stay the same, and when demand exceeds supply prices go up.

Due to the extremely high demand to live and invest here, we’ve seen double digit percentage increases in housing prices. Therefore, I believe it is irresponsible for municipalities to further constrict the housing supply, as the consequences of those actions will make housing prices rise even more and push a greater number of families out of the housing market!

Of course, the vocal minority has come out in the full force against this project, as they are against any and all change in the municipality. I’ve read through a number of the websites against the project and majority of their opposition is based on false information, ignorance or just plain jealously. It’s not effecting food production whatsoever, the land in question is a rocky hill. Municipalities do not go broke by growing their tax base, especially in this case, as the infrastructure is already in place. And finally, it’s no ones business but the Vantreights how much money they’ll make off their development. In addition, when did someone making money become a crime?

It’s important to remember that this vocal minority does NOT represent the views of majority of the residents of Central Saanich. Look at our history, creativity always eventually triumphs over critics!

For a rezoning such as this, Mayor and Council main priority ought to be on the surrounding owners concerns within the municipality. If they are legitimate concerns, the Vantreights will have to work to address them, but if the immediate neighbors are in favor or have illegitimate concerns, the Vantreights have every right to improve upon their property. This gets back to the foundation of what the prosperity of our great nation has been built upon, individual property rights.

Keep in mind this family has worked hard, saved and invested to buy this piece of land. It is ridiculous to enforce upon them the whims and wants of every resident of Central Saanich.

The Mayor and Council have a big, tough decision ahead of them.

They can continue on the status quo of anti-development and anti-change. This would be the easiest choice as keeping the status quo takes no vision and has less political risk attached to it.

Or

They can show courage, vision and forward thinking plus embrace innovation, creativity and change to make Central Saanich an even better place to live.

I encourage Mayor and Council to do the latter.