The district is seeking feedback in housing options. (Submission, District of Central Saanich)

Central Saanich seeks input on housing policy

June 22 open house will focus on high-density housing options

The District of Central Saanich is halfway through a public consultation on what the redevelopment of high-density housing sites should look like.

An open house was held on June 13 and a final one is scheduled for Saturday, June 22, from noon to 4 p.m. at the Cultural Centre, 1209 Clarke Rd.

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In response to the housing crisis, the District first asked the community to share ideas and concerns last year, with a focus on infill housing – small lots, carriage homes, townhomes and apartment heights. According to the District, that feedback, along with research into demographic projections and more, has been used to develop new policy and design guidelines. While the District is keen for a diversity of housing, it looks likely that residents should get used to the idea of teeny homes in the future.

“Ultimately, we want to find ways to create compact, walkable communities with a variety of housing options,” said Mayor Ryan Windsor. “We heard from the community that the ability to keep their children in Central Saanich or be able to age in the community depends on whether there are housing options such as carriage homes, suites and small-lot dwellings.”

The majority of respondents at the first open house were under the age of 50 and live in a single family home. The District is hoping to hear from more renters before the survey closes on July 19.

Britt Burnham, Central Saanich manager of community services, summarized the feedback received so far.

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“For a detached accessory dwelling on an existing lot, the indication at this point is that residents support one-storey cottages in both rural areas and within the urban settlement boundary. The response thus far is a bit more divided for two-storey carriage homes. Providing adequate parking and window placement that considers neighbours’ privacy were listed as the most important design guidelines.”

The District says that respondents have also indicated support for zoning that would enable pocket house neighbourhoods – basically shoebox housing – and adds there is support for Central Saanich to consider tiny home approval options. They admit this might be a challenge as there are federal and provincial regulations regarding tiny homes.

“The majority of feedback thus far is not in favour of reducing the minimum lot size required for a duplex, but is in favour of the District allowing duplexes in more zones within the Settlement Area Boundary, such as R-1 and R-1M,” Burnham says.

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Following the consultation, staff will compile final guidelines for council to consider that will inform housing policy for the upcoming Official Community Plan review.

Central Saanich says the draft policies and guidelines are based on a housing needs analysis and input gathered from the community last spring. The community feedback and a virtual open house are available on the project’s website, letstalkcentralsaanich.ca/housing.

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