The Accent Inns on Blanshard Street is one of two hotels in Saanich. Despite reservations from Mayor Richard Atwell, council passed a motion that calls on Saanich to “actively consider” hotel development. Wolf Depner/News Staff

Saanich mayor has reservations over push for hotel development

Saanich will “actively consider” hotel developments in collaboration with the tourism industry

Mayor Richard Atwell said Saanich needs to be building affordable housing, not hotels, “some of the least affordable housing in Saanich” during Monday’s council meeting.

Atwell made these comments before council unanimously approved a motion that calls on Saanich to “consider” hotel developments in collaboration with the tourism industry through Tourism Victoria.

“High up on our list and embedded into our Official Community Plan, is the desire and the need to build affordable housing, and I can’t imagine sitting at this table and seriously considering a hotel on a major piece of land that we own, when we should be building with somebody affordable housing,” said Atwell. “That is the priority.”

The original wording of the motion from Saanich’s planning, transportation and economic development advisory committee recommended that council “actively pursue” hotel development, language subsequently revised.

Coun. Judy Brownoff, who chairs that committee and represents Saanich on Tourism Victoria, said Saanich has at least two areas (Shelbourne Valley and Uptown-Douglas), where developers could build hotels to help replace the some 300 hotel rooms that the region has lost in recent years.

Brownoff said developers have already asked Tourism Victoria about hotel development opportunities, and Saanich would be “wise” to advertise itself against the backdrop of Saanich’s plans to promote sports tourism, and the recent creation of the Greater Victoria Sport Tourism Commission.

“The region hosts more than 100 major regional, provincial, national and international events annually, which drive approximately $117 million in annual tourism dollars,” she said.

But the competition for these dollars has increased, and Saanich (like the rest of the region) should position itself, she added, pointing to the economic benefits of tourism.

Brownoff said Saanich owns land that could be used for a future hotel, and if developers were to approach Saanich through Tourism Victoria, she would like to see staff assist those efforts, as part of a larger effort to diversify the local economy and its tax base.

Atwell acknowledged the need to raise awareness, but questioned what staff would be doing in the future that they would not have been doing already.

“I listened to your explanation, but I’m still struggling with it,” he said in response to Brownoff. “Anybody who wants to develop our land will come to us.”

Coun. Fred Haynes praised the motion, saying that the idea for a hotel in Saanich is not a new one. Supporting the motion (with its original wording) would send the right signal to the development community, while rejecting the measure would send the opposite signal, he said.

“So this is really an opportunity for leadership from council, Mr. Mayor, as much as from staff,” he said.

Council eventually voted on a revised version of the recommendation that substituted “consider” for “pursue.”

Atwell acknowledged that Saanich lacked hotels.

“If Saanich were a Monopoly board, it would have two red pieces of plastic on it – the Howard Johnson and the Accent Inns,” he said.

But Saanich’s history has also made it clear that the community might not be an attractive place for hotel developers, otherwise they would have already built more hotels to satisfy demand.

He said the City of Victoria has actually converted hotel space, specifically the Harbour Towers Hotel, into residential units in questioning why Saanich should help hoteliers fix an industry problem.

While it is important to raise awareness about the need for additional hotel space and see where staff can help, Saanich should not be in the hotel development business, as conceived by the original motion, he said.

“I’m going to support the [revised] motion, and keep an open mind, but I won’t be supporting any kind of motion that was intended to go forward,” he said.

Just Posted

Bike sharing program rolls into Saanich

According to staff, U-Bicycle plans to make between 75 and 100 bicycles available in Saanich.

Two puppies snatched from East Sooke home

Anyone with information asked to contact Sooke RCMP

Saanich teen helps save three people from the Gorge

53-year-old male who was submerged is expected to recover

Moving Trans History Forward conference aimed at more than LGBTQ community

UVic’s Aaron Devor: “We’re all here to learn from each other”

Large fire destroys home on McClure Street in Victoria

Fire crews dispatched to the 1100-block shortly before noon Monday

Ottawa proposes restricted pot labels, packages

Packaging will include red stop sign with marijuana leaf and ‘THC’

Mayor says it could take “years” to replace EDPA

Mayor Richard Atwell said it will take Saanich “years” to replace a… Continue reading

Janet Austin announced as B.C.’s new lieutenant governor

Austin has served as YWCA Metro Vancouver CEO since 2003

Ex-French president Sarkozy in custody on Gadhafi claims

Former French President Nicolas Sarkozy was placed in custody as part of an investigation that he received millions of euros in illegal financing

Hockey pioneer Kwong dies at 94

Vernon’s Larry Kwong was the first player to break NHL colour barrier in 1948

How Facebook likes could profile voters for manipulation

Facebook suspended Cambridge Analytica, a data-analysis firm worked for Trump’s 2016 campaign

Uber suspends self-driving car tests after fatality

A woman walking outside a crosswalk in Phoenix was killed when she was hit by a self-driving car

Police divers to resume river search for missing Montreal boy

Police divers and a helicopter search the shores of the Riviere des Prairies for missing 10-year old boy Ariel Jeffrey Kouakou

World’s last male northern white rhino dies

The world’s last male northern white rhino, Sudan, has died after “age-related complications”.

Most Read