Saanich plans to speed up the development permit against concerns from development community

Report calls on Saanich council to delegate more authority to staff

A report recommends Saanich council delegate more authority to staff to speed up developments.

“Despite significant changes over the last 15 years, the desire for faster development review remains for Saanich and many communities throughout [British Columbia],” said Sharon Hvozdanski, director of planning, in the report.

It says Saanich’s process “has, over a period of several decades, become layered and complex, which contributes to the amount of time required by staff to process an application, and for the approving authority to render a decision.”

The report then lists current, planned and potential options to improve the development process, with council set to review the 12 potential options at a future committee-of-the-whole meeting for some time in April.

They recommend among others the expansion of staff’s approval authority for minor development permit amendments. “Minor amendments are generally approved in about two weeks as opposed to 4-6 months if consideration by [council] is required,” the report notes. “Providing greater discretion to the director of planning to deal with minor amendments by increasing the scope of changes that can be considered would reduce both processing requirements and processing times.”

Two other related options call on Saanich to pre-zone lands following the approval of major land use plans. Pre-zoning, the report notes, would “allow the vision to be realized more efficiently.” Under this scenario, developers would then only need to apply for form and character development permits. This option would require Saanich to update its design guidelines to ensure clarity for developers and help meet community expectations.

Saanich could also expand its delegation authority, an approach that can be beneficial, but also bear risks. When “applied thoughtfully,” delegation can improve processing times, it notes. When not “applied judicially,” delegated authority can increase demands on already-taxed staff in slowing development and other initiatives.

Other recommendations call for the prioritization of applications based on key objectives of the Official Community Plan, such as “affordable housing, creating a more “resilient local economy and diverse tax base.”

While council received the report, it pushed deliberations into next month to receive additional input from the public-at-large, community associations, and the development community.

“It would give me a much better idea of how these are going to satisfy the ultimate clients,” said Mayor Richard Atwell. “I’m just really a keeper of the process.”

Casey Edge, executive director of the Victoria Residential Builders Association, said the recommendations “mostly sound reasonable,” but urged council to follow through on their execution.

Edge also sounded a note of skepticism in his analysis of the report.

“The planning report says it takes four to six months to approve a simple development application,” he said. “One of my members has been waiting 14 months for his application.”

Just Posted

Esquimalt man arrested for child pornography

42-year-old man’s residence searched by VicPD units on Dec. 5

Saanich residents deliver notice to Capital Regional District

Grange Road residents fear the loss of up to 50 trees

Victoria to bid for World Cross-Country Championships

IAAF 2023 worlds could bring upwards of $10 million to region

Residential break-ins up while drug production down in West Shore: report finds

West Shore RCMP presented a quarterly report to Colwood Council this week

‘Fix Canada First’ posters found at Victoria bus stops

At least five posters found along Douglas Street

WATCH: Hundreds of gifts go out to Victoria’s Our Place patrons

The Angel Gifts Program saw 700 Christmas presents go out to the community

POLL: Are you dreaming of a white Christmas?

The rain Vancouver Island is famous for is coming down in buckets,… Continue reading

‘People talk about deep sadness:’ Scientists study climate change grief

Some call it environmental grief, some call it solastalgia — a word coined for a feeling of homesickness when home changes around you.

As protectors abandon Trump, investigation draws closer

Cohen was sentenced Wednesday to three years in prison for an array of crimes.

Senate delays start of sittings in new home, delaying start of broadcasts

The Senate and House of Commons are moving into temporary homes for the next decade as a result of long-planned and badly needed renovations to the Centre Block.

UK leader seeks EU lifeline after surviving confidence vote

EU leaders gather for a two-day summit, beginning Thursday, which will center on the Brexit negotiations.

BCHL’ers blanked by Russia at World Junior A Challenge

Canada West loses battle of the unbeaten teams in the preliminary round

French police try to catch attack suspect dead or alive

Local authorities increase death toll to three, including 13 wounded and five in serious condition

Second Canadian missing in China after questioning by authorities

Michael Spavor, founder of a non-profit that organizes cultural-exchange trips to North Korea, “is presently missing in China”

Most Read