As people should know by now, I think the Hill proposal by the Vantreights is a good idea. This is land that can not farmed and can not be quarried, it is the perfect place to put houses.
I have been reading through the Central Saanich OCP to see what it really says about things and I have found some interesting things that are dumb and others that indicate the development fits within the OCP and Regional Growth Strategy.
10 Acres of Farmland in Central Saanich in the Urban Containment Boundary
The dumb aspect I found is that there is 10 acres of farmland included within the Urban Containment Boundary in the Saanichton area. This land between Wallace and East Saanich and Prosser and Hovey is still being farmed, but is shown to be an area Central Saanich considers a good place to build more houses, an infill area.
Central Saanich passed their OCP knowing this land was formerly ALR and is currently not developed. Why was this placed in the urban containment boundary but the Hill not? This highlights the problem with macro planning processes like the OCP or the Regional Growth Strategy, errors are made.
The smart thing would be to change the urban containment boundary are remove this land from it. Central Saanich should also apply to have this land returned to ALR status.
The housing Central Saanich is relying on from this land can be satisfied with the Hill project.
The OCP and the Hill project
There is concern that the Hill project is too dense for an area outside of the urban containment boundary, but in looking at what Central Saanich placed outside of the urban containment boundary, there are developments with very small lot sizes, ones comparable to the Hill project. The difference between the houses on Mount St Michael Road and the Hill project is that the Hill project is not bring built on farmland.
There are three examples of densities of the same scale as the Hill project, two of them on former farmland. The Hill project is the only one that is abutting an existing area of urban development.
The Central Saanich OCP has Mount St Michael Road and Welch and Mallard roads as rural residential and not urban. On the basis of this precedence in the OCP the Hill project is not out of sync with the plan.
Central Saanich also has a zoning called RE 5 that is considered rural and acceptable for outside of the urban containment boundary. Nowhere within the OCP was there anything saying RE 5 should not be used any longer. RE 5 allows for minimum size lots of 0.14 hectares and an average of 0.2 ha.
The small lot rural residential areas in Central Saanich should have been in the urban containment boundary, but by not doing so, the residents of Central Saanich that took part in the OCP process made it clear that small lots outside of the urban containment area in non ALR lands is acceptable. To be clear here the Central Saanich OCP makes no recommendations on minimum lot size in rural areas and no comments against subdivision.
If this is not what people wanted in the OCP, there needs to be an amendment to the OCP, the small lot areas need to be considered as part of the urban containment area. There needs to be more detail in the OCP with respect to rural lands.
As the current OCP stands, the Hill project is entirely in keeping with how it is written.