Ben Allan is running for Saanich council in the 2018 general election. Travis Paterson/News Staff

Affordable housing, land planning critical for candidate Ben Allan

Braefoot resident makes political debut in seeking Saanich council seat

Greater density on Saanich’s main corridors is needed to create a better bus system, says Saanich council candidate Ben Allan.

The first-time candidate has come to the political arena as many others have, inspired by the late Vic Derman.

Allan hopes to follow suit in taking the time to be as informed on each vote that comes before council, and vote for what’s right, even if it isn’t popular.

Related: See who’s running in Saanich: All 17 council and four mayoral candidates

Allan has outlined on his Facebook page numerous positions on Saanich’s most popular issues.

“I believe I have one of the more in-depth platforms on housing affordability, land planning, food security, deer and geese problems, and I believe I have solutions to these problems,” Allan said. “Others say, ‘these are the issues,’ but they don’t say how they intend to solve them, I’d bring my ideas as solutions.”

Allan is a hospitality manager with Compass overseeing food service at the Berwick Royal Oak retirement home. Living in the Braefoot neighbourhood with his wife and their three-year-old daughter, Allan actually grew up in Cordova Bay where he remembers the bus came about once an hour.

“I believe we need to work with BC Transit and the CRD transportation authority to further develop density on major routes such as the Shelbourne, McKenzie, Quadra and Tillicum [corridors],” Allan said. “You build more low-rises, condos, and apartments, so that more people are available to use the transit system, a transit system that needs to be strong.”

He points to the new six-storey code for wood framed condos or apartments as part of the solution.

“This should make it easier for developers to build low-rise condos,” he said.

Allan also wants to see local area plans revamped on a faster schedule.

“I’d like to see them done in one year, and once they’re all done [12 years later], start reviewing them again. There’s 12, one a year, so it’s an ongoing process, perhaps if there’s major issues, they come up earlier.”

Part and parcel to creating urban density is the protection of food security.

“I’m interested in finding ways to support better use of farmland in Saanich, we need to find a way to make it easier for those outside the UCB or in the ALR to grow food,” he said. “We’re topped off with what, a week’s worth of food supply. What if something happens and BC Ferries won’t work, and we are now inside of BC’s ring of fire, what are we going to do?.”

Allan sees the issues of homelessness and tent cities as related to finding solutions to affordable housing.

“We know people can’t afford half million dollar homes,” Allan said. “If there were more in the $150,000 to 200,000 range, there’d be more [options]… we need to work with the province and federal government to build more affordable houses for those who have fallen on tough times.”

In the meantime, Allan supports the overnight sheltering bylaw as a solution, which permits camping in more than 100 Saanich Parks between 7 p.m. and 9 a.m.

“There’s no real need for a community to get together as they did at Regina Park and at the courthouse,” Allan said. “Yes there’s a sense of community, but there’s a huge cost to taxpayers whereas before April yes, they were living somewhere but it wasn’t causing as much pronounced damage.”

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