Saanich’s planning department is undertaking a review to identify areas of the application process for building development permits that could be expedited.
Championed by Coun. Fred Haynes, who chairs Saanich’s Transportation and Economic Development advisory committee, the report was supported by all eight councillors and mayor.
The goal is to find inefficiencies that could be made faster, he said. It will lead to a more comprehensive report on the development application process in the new year.
“It’s part of a continued discussion on affordable housing in the region,” Haynes said. “When this interim report comes back in January or February, council will have an opportunity to review its ingredients and decide on an appropriate hierarchy for key items.”
Council recognized it will lead to a great undertaking for staff but Haynes defended the additional report as a means to help a department that’s already stretched.
Saanich council has seen five reports on affordable housing this year looking at the downloading of building codes, renovation tax credits, a provincial transfer tax, the extension of co-operative housing funding and an endorsement of recommendations by provincial seniors advocate Isobel Mackenzie on seniors access to affordable homes.
The key is to continue enticing development in Saanich around an improved long-term vision by putting the vision policies, based on progressive values (such as the density-appropriate and value-driven Natural City plan put together by Coun. Vic Derman), in a clear and understandable format on the website, Haynes said.
In Haynes’ mind, a new long-term vision will find a way to bring Saanich’s strategic plan, official community plan and local area plans together with projects such as the Shelbourne Valley Action Plan and the Douglas corridor.
Ideally, Saanich’s vision will be supported by and invigorate anyone who wishes to build in Saanich.
“Based on this report, staff will have a clear direction from council on the application of resources to address the intent, which is improved time, as well as, I hope, a clearer, longtime vision, part of building a Saanich of the future,” said Haynes.