Council followed process with Townley Lodge decision

Greater Victoria Chamber of Commerce off base in their criticism of Saanich council

I find the comments made by the Greater Victoria Chamber of Commerce CEO Catherine Holt on the Townley Lodge development in the chamber newsletter (Saanich News Nov. 30) to be uninformed and simplistic.

Ms. Holt reveals little evidence that before writing she had read the agenda and the official minutes of the Oct. 24 committee of the whole meeting about the Townley Lodge redevelopment proposal; or understands the process that Saanich uses to assess development proposals.

The municipality of Saanich has a clearly defined process that council uses to ensure that all affected parties – both applicants and neighbours – have opportunity to express their needs, interests and concerns.

In my experience council has bent over backwards to follow that process meticulously, weighing the pros and cons of proposals, taking into account high-level planning guidelines developed over many years, searching for solutions that provided for the greatest common good. Council deserves credit for that – not your unwarranted grandstanding.

Council must perform a balancing act that is fair to all: your simplistic notion that it should just ignore due process and make a snap decision gives me great concern. This is still a democracy, and neighbours refuse to be bullied or ignored. They only ask for a fair hearing: Council is affording us that.

It would have been more constructive if you had recognized the need for a balanced solution – as was being proposed by the neighbours of Townley Lodge. Council did not reject the proposal out-of-hand but asked the GVHS to work with neighbours to find a compromise that does provide additional affordable housing (as supported by neighbours) but also is compliant with Saanich’s high-level planning guidelines (evolved over many years, and that help make sensible planning decisions).

Your characterization of council as allowing a “loud minority” to slow the creation of new housing is both grossly unfair to council and dismissive of neighbours who have legitimate concerns: the very neighbours who offered support for additional affordable housing.

Your intemperate accusation that “Municipal processes must help us address the problem – not become part of it” does a great disservice to our dedicated councillors. They are working their way towards a resolution: there are no easy solutions. What you dismiss as “hemming and hawing” reflects councillors carefully considering their options and the consequences of their decision.

I hope that at some future time that you don’t find yourself on the wrong end of a development proposal that negatively affects you. I doubt you will support snap decisions then.

I assume that your views as CEO reflect those of the members of the chamber. If so then I can imagine that there will be some Saanich residents who will question their patronage of GVCC members’ businesses. Apparently, the chamber views many of us as just a bunch of NIMBYs of no consequence.

J. Morven Wilson

Saanich

 

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