Saanich continues to develop as a sustainable community with neighbourhood hubs like our defined centres and villages, all the while maintaining our urban containment boundary (UCB). These areas are relatively compact communities with good access to transit and active transportation options and incorporate a range of housing options, workplaces, parks, amenities, shops and services. These areas also can have a high degree of housing affordability and diversity by using existing infrastructure more efficiently, which can have a positive impact on our municipal budget.
The diversity of our residents means a need for variety in housing and services. We now have policies that allow secondary suites in all areas within the UCB. We have adopted an adaptable housing standard through amending our zoning bylaw. Residents were paying thousands of dollars to reinforce bathroom walls so grab bars could be installed.
This bylaw requires most newly constructed apartment buildings to be built under this standard which provides a totally accessible washroom with reinforced walls for placement of bars when needed, and other important visitability standards over 1,000 units have been built for aging in place and residents with disabilities.
Working with developers, we have created below-market rental units with housing agreements in market buildings, a unique partnership that creates affordable “rental” units. Saanich has 32 per cent of the co-op housing units, and with talk about investing in co-op housing again I hope that CMHC will be a key player once more.
Saanich supported the new CRD Housing First program – $30 million regional and a matching $30 million from the provincial government will be invested in providing safe places for those who are homeless in our region. This will be the biggest investment in social housing in this region and I am very hopeful that we will see lives changed by this program.
Saanich councillor and CRD director