As Saanich looks toward building dense, urban centres where people can live, work and play, what role should Saanich politicians have in planning these developments?
David Cubberley, mayoral candidate:
"Until we put a visionary plan together for these centres and go through the exercises of doing that, we certainly shouldn't do any more Uptowns. With Saanich's vision and the approved plans that were signed on to, it's hard to imagine how you get that outcome. We need to work with Victoria on a plan that incorporates all the things we look at: walkable friendly centres well-served by transit. We need to work with the development community and current property owners and the broader community to develop that vision for that corridor. We have to plan these corridors – like Douglas and Shelbourne – with a public planning process that's visionary and brings all the interests together. We need to aim at something that, at the end of the day, is going to build a worthy urban environment that's attractive for humans to live in. We sure won't get that by having developers come with a one-size-fits-all plan for the whole community."
Frank Leonard, mayoral candidate:
"I'm always nervous about a mayor or council involving themselves in the front-end of development proposals because you need to be the judge at the end. We have an Official Community Plan and Local Area Plans, those policies are there in black and white. Developers should be able to take those policies, go to the community, have workshops and bring your application before us. But we do need more plans like the Shelbourne Valley Action Plan. We need to consider the roads and then the surrounding land-use and come up with complete plans. I try to make sure the community shapes an opinion and ultimately a plan. Ultimately, I think more plans are necessary for places like Douglas between Uptown and Mayfair, and Quadra and McKenzie. I don't know if we want development too well-defined. I don't want land-use to be a computer decision where you tick off every box. This planning requires a human dynamic shaping every individual community."
Susan Brice, council candidate:
"We have to have clarity with our policies and our bylaws so that developers will be able to give their architects some certainty. We have to tap into what the principles are going to be that will make an application acceptable to the community and to council. Developers need to know long before they get to the final drawing stages, that the ideas they're considering would be acceptable and can be shared with the community. As a council, we have been absolutely clear that community consultation is crucial. It means going way further upstream, engaging the stakeholders in meaningful discussion about what would be in the best interest of the community."
Judy Brownoff, council candidate:
"In the development industry, they want simple. "Tell us what you want, we'll do it." They don't want to show up at council and and hear, "I want you to put in this and this." They need to know what the community and Saanich council expects. Sidewalk improvements, installing bus stops, ensuring there's benches and garbage cans. It has to start a community level. Everyone has to be involved in the process, but at the end of the day council has to approve the standard, then the development industry will know what's expected of them."
Vic Derman, council candidate:
"Our role is key. We should set the stage with larger, longer-term visionary planning for those specific areas. We need to make sure those broad planning strokes are done, to a degree, before the process of development takes place. If you do really good planning at the start, with developers and the community, everybody knows what's going to happen. The quality of developments we'll get will be much better when we have a blueprint and we're following that blueprint. Not doing it in a haphazard manner is critical."
Paul Gerrard, council candidate:
"We need to bring appropriate developments on to the community as soon as we can and get the process moving a little quicker. Our local area plans are out of date, which is unfortunate because people put a lot of time and effort into their plans. We need to meld the local area plans with the official community plan and regional growth strategy. I'm afraid if we do spot in-fill and don't tie it in to long-term planning, we're going to get hodgepodge along the major corridors, which should be a showcase for development, particularly when it's tied to transportation, as well."
Ingrid Ip, council candidate:
"I can speak to a place like Tuscany Village. That was supposed to encourage walking and that kind of thing. It seems to me they're trying to make it horrible so people don't drive. I think we have to look more deeply into what it is and what it's going to look like when it's done. And looking at it at an earlier stage in the blueprints on accessibility."
Dean Murdock, council candidate:
"We need to set out clear expectations in what we want to see in our major centres, and that means the development of major centre development permit guidelines. This needs to cover everything from the form and character, to the quality of housing, the level of sustainability, the contribution towards affordability – in terms of units and a cash contribution – and transportation alternatives. It preceded my time on council, but council clearly got caught unprepared with the development at Uptown. That's a major planning failure because council couldn't articulate its expectations. Planning guidelines could've benefitted the design of that project."
Vicki Sanders, council candidate:
"We should be right upfront with what our expectations are. We need to respect the regional growth strategy, the official community plans, and tell the developers right from the beginning whether this fits or not. Thinking outside the box a little is fine, but we should encourage them to meet the goals of our plans. We have to be clear on what our expectations are, as far as sustainability. We need to be much firmer on building green standards and not lose our ingenuity, uniqueness and great quality that we could have."
Nichola Wade, council candidate:
"It's the politicians' role to articulate the vision and to ensure that developments stay true to that vision, as written in the Official Community Plan and Local Area Plans. It's not the politician's role to determine what colour the siding is going to be – it's not our role to do that picky stuff. If we provide clearer advice in these strategies, then developers would know what they can do."
Leif Wergeland, council candidate:
"I think the perimeters of the centres should be defined better. And not just giving guidelines to developers, we should better let the development community know what we're looking for. Right now we don't have rules for the game and the rules come out at the 11th hour. All this should be established long before an application comes to council. Definite guidelines as to what we expect need to be made first."
Rob Wickson, council candidate:
"Saanich's role is huge, to me. Council has to be far more active with the development community in our region, starting off by hosting an event where they all sit down and say "What can we all see as opportunities that would interest and attract development?" And politicians can say: "Well here's what we look for in future development. We want these particular elements." Developers need to have a basic understanding of what's expected of council. And it'd be interesting to find out what's going on at a staffing levels that's causing delays, because the process for developers to go through the planning department is long."
Harald Wolf, council candidate:
"Nobody is saying: 'What is it that we really need?' We have to have a vision of a new Saanich, where we want to go. I'm going to strive to make Saanich a city – it's ludicrous that we seem to have no ambition to be anything but a bedroom community to Victoria. Once we have a vision, we can take it to the development community to make it happen. Right now they're the ones driving development. Politicians have a role to put the vision in place that says, 'All these condos are not supplying the housing that we need for the type of people that we want to live, work, play and recreate in this community.'"