We asked the Saanich mayor and council candidates to provide their thoughts and strategies on urban centres and long-term land-use planning.
David Cubberley, mayoral candidate:
Saanich needs to engage in large-area planning for centres designated for higher density under the growth strategy – to ensure they are walkable, mixed-use, well-served by transit, and have amenities. This vision needs to become our planning priority, to avoid one-off, large scale developments like Uptown, where Saanich failed to integrate a major transit hub.
Frank Leonard, mayoral candidate:
Saanich’s community plan encourages regional urban centres where citizens can live, work and gather. Our local area plans seek to protect the integrity and liveability of neighbourhoods. These plans are based on the input of the community and must be respected by Council. Most importantly, our urban containment and agricultural policies must continue to be enforced.
Susan Brice, council candidate:
Urban Centres make sense from a social, economic and environmental perspective because the precious land base within the urban containment boundary is used more efficiently. As we plan, every aspect of the communities life must be interlinked including housing, transportation, commercial and social services. A key element in the success of this shift away from sprawl and toward livability will be the inclusion of all the stakeholders in the planning process. I have a record of supporting the Saanich Urban Containment boundary and in so doing preventing urban sprawl. Some of the lands within the urban containment boundary are ideally situated for some densification and the development of urban centres and villages. Working with the existing residents and Community Associations we can find a good balance to bring new vibrancy to an area without loosing the special feel and familiarity that people love about their own neighborhood.
Judy Brownoff, council candidate:
Saanich has been involved in long-term land use planning with residents for a number of years. It started with the new Sustainable Saanich Official Community Plan (OCP). It reflects many policies that will lead us forward. OCP’s are considered living documents and so as our residents want to see changes they will happen through a community engagement process. Like all OCP plans they need to move forward through our strategic plan and budget process. An annual report is designed to show our residents what we have accomplished in that year. Urban Centres are key because they allow us to use our existing infrastructure and to encourage people to live in areas where services already are, including transit. The draft Shelbourne Valley Corridor plan will be coming before council in 2012. This long range planning process, which has a community committee, will be the first corridor plan Saanich has developed with 5 five different villages and centers on it.
Vic Derman, council candidate:
To a high degree, long range visionary planning determines the quality of our future. Unfortunately, we haven’t “set the stage” for that future to happen. Consequently, most things come to us as “one offs” with no clear picture of how they fit in. That approach will not bring results we need and is just not good enough! We must take on the difficult task of doing essential, long range visionary planning. At a minimum, we need new visions for the Douglas and Shelbourne corridors but we ought to start much more. Let’s aim high. We have huge opportunities which will fade away if we don’t act now.
Paul Gerrard, council candidate:
Because Saanich has a policy of protecting ALR lands, we allow appropriate density within Saanich’s Urban Containment Boundary. The Regional Growth Strategy ( now the Regional Sustainability Strategy ) defines land – use planning and density be concentrated around major centres, village centres, neighbourhood centres and transportation corridors. Land costs are so high that increased density is essential to keep our housing relatively affordable. I believe that we need to open up our major transportation corridors ( such as Douglas Street, Shelbourne Street and McKenzie Avenue ) to increased density in a comprehensive way, and not on a one – off basis with spot development.
Ingrid Ip, council candidate:
Saanich has faced a shortage of undeveloped land for many years and the pressure to develop in the Agricultural Land reserve remains. I do want to preserve our agricultural land. I think that we need to take more care with new urban centers. Both Uptown and Tuscany Village are not nearly the cozy centers they were supposed to be. Tuscany Village has small little sidewalks and difficult to negotiate parking. Uptown is also neither pedestrian nor automobile friendly. We need more communication and dialogue with the residents of Saanich on what they would like to see.
Dean Murdock, council candidate:
Future residential and commercial growth should be concentrated around major centres where residents have access to quality public transit and the goods and services they require. We can’t afford continued urban sprawl. It leads to increased traffic congestion, more CO2 emissions, and loss of rural and farm land. As major centres develop, we have to provide better, more efficient transit service along major routes and between centres, including downtown and the University.
Vicki Sanders, council candidate:
I respect local area plans, long range plans, the OCP and the Regional Sustainability Strategy because it is essential that we are proactive instead of reactive. I am committed to planning but in an evergreen manner where the plans are reviewed, updated and reflect current needs of the community.
Nichola Wade, council candidate:
Saanich has an excellent set of Official Community Plan, Local Area Plans, Environmental, Climate Action, Transportation & other plans. Each of these has been developed with community input. Rather than demand new approaches, we need to focus on integration and implementation of these plans. In particular, we need to focus on ensuring that we do not compromise our longer (~25 year) term plans when implementing programs, and projects in the short term.
Leif Wergeland, council candidate:
More density needs to occur in our urban centers where there will be access to many amenities and transportation. Whatever we build will probably be there for the next 60 – 80 years and so serious, long range planning needs to be done.
Rob Wickson, council candidate:
Sustainable development must integrate environmental, social and economic considerations into the decision making processes. Some recent and proposed major developments in Saanich, such as the Uptown Shopping Centre, have failed to take these considerations into account. I believe that as a community we need to move to a sustainable agenda. I am an economist so I want to create financial and social wealth for our community without negatively impacting the environment. Businesses are very much a part of the local community and have a very significant role to play. For example, by approaching new development using “Smart Growth” principles, external costs related to health and environment are reduced. As an economist I understand this process very clearly and believe I can give real leadership in building a sustainable community.
Harald Wolf, council candidate:
My highest priority is to reintegrate economic development into this community. If we are going to transition to a sustainable life style, we’ll need land-use beyond single-family, condo, and retail. We will need to find room for small-scale manufacturing and possibly food processing. Beyond the urban containment boundary, the municipality has to step up and take on a leadership role in strengthening the opportunities to farm, and to assure that no more farmland it lost to development.