Sat. May 27 - New Saanich OCP draft targets sustainability and walkability
Plus: Library asbestos update. Local doctor only taking older patients. Gas prices keep rising.
Good morning !
Saanich’s new draft community plan is looking to make the district’s use of space more sustainable and more practical.
Its approach involves several tiers of urban density and a goal of having key services within a 15-minute walk in urban areas. This is similar to the increasingly popular urban-planning concept of “15-minute cities,” though that approach usually expands the radius to include 15-minute bike rides.
More details below on Saanich’s new plan, and how it’s trying to balance its spread-out land base with its emissions-reduction goals. Plus: updates on Oak Bay’s library asbestos closure, local gas prices, and more.
Do you live within a 15-minute walk of most key services?
New Saanich OCP draft aims to make district more sustainable and walkable
📸 District of Saanich
The public will soon have a chance to weigh in on Saanich’s draft for its new Sustainable Saanich – Official Community Plan (OCP). This will be the fifth update to the OCP and first in 15 years, with issues such as housing and climate change having become more pressing since the last OCP was released.
The plan’s key focuses include reconciliation; agriculture and food supply; climate change response; sustainable transportation; and increasing housing supply, diversity, and affordability.
This OCP builds on Saanich’s existing plans to channel growth through “Corridors, Centres, and Villages,” with Centres and Villages being two types of existing mixed-use communities and Corridors being the main connections between them. Villages [orange in OCP map shown below and on OCP draft’s page 51] are mainly low-rise with some mid-rise, while Centres [pink] and Primary Corridors [manila] mainly go up to mid-rise but can have high-rises at some points. The designated Uptown Core [red] can go up to 18-storey high-rises, with 24 storeys in some cases.
(Area above cutoff is mainly grey non-urban areas, plus Cordova Bay Village)
By basing services and development around this framework, the plan aims to make Greater Victoria’s largest and most populous municipality less car-reliant by establishing “15-minute communities” throughout Saanich. This is a more-specific version of the “Complete Communities” outlined in the 2008 OCP and 2018 growth strategy. It refers to making all essential services, such as grocery stores and healthcare, no further than 1.2km (an average 15-minute walk) away from any residents within the Urban Containment Boundary.
The Urban Containment Boundary framework, intended to preserve agricultural and natural land, splits Saanich approximately in half between a designated non-urban [grey in map above] and urban areas. The new plan would still maintain those boundaries as the district expands housing to include more low-rise apartments, houseplexes, and townhouses with a range of affordability.
The district also looks to increase its urban forest coverage by adding more trees and native plants, with a plan to release its Urban Forest Strategy soon. Saanich currently has an average canopy coverage of 43%—though it’s not evenly distributed—which outpaces the the 2019 estimation of 28% in Victoria.
Saanich residents will be able to share their thoughts on the new OCP through online sessions, open houses, surveys, and by consulting with advisory committees.
By Robyn Bell and Cam Welch
⛅ Today’s weather: Mix of sun and cloud. Some wind late in the afternoon. High 21C/ low 11C.
⛽ Gas prices rising: Some local stations have reached 190.9 cents, and the local average is now at its highest in 2023 and above any highs seen prior to 2022. [GasBuddy]
📁 Wallet linked to 1980s police file: Saanich Police hope to speak to two people who last fall turned in a wallet they found, which has since been linked to a 1980s police file.
Oak Bay Library reopening soon, after 4-month asbestos closure
📸 The initial Jan. closure notice. File photo: Jimmy Thomson
The pop-up library located in the Cedar Room of Monterey Recreation Centre will close down Sunday at 5pm. Oak Bay’s permanent branch is set to reopen between June 5-11, following its closure for asbestos testing Jan. 26.
The library, one of Greater Victoria’s busiest, closed after dust contaminated with asbestos was discovered in an isolated section of the building. A comprehensive abatement process was carried out to prevent future asbestos exposure and closures. The testing determined that no public or staff areas had been exposed to asbestos contamination. The District of Oak Bay announced in April that they planned to upgrade insulation and lighting while the library was closed.
Until the branch reopens, holds will remain in place and returns can be dropped off at the 24-hour book return outside Monterey Recreation Centre.
By Sarah Madsen
SPONSORED BY VICTORIA FOUNDATION
One week left to share your opinions!
The Victoria Foundation’s 18th annual Vital Signs Survey is open until Friday, Jun. 2. From Sooke to the Southern Gulf Islands, your opinions matter!
The Vital Signs survey, presented by Coast Capital, asks residents to weigh in on 12 Vital Signs issues related to quality of life in the region. These issue areas include housing, safety, health and wellness, belonging and engagement, and more.
This year, you can fill out a short or long version of the survey and responses are used to produce the comprehensive Victoria’s Vital Signs report, released in the fall. The report combines public opinion and statistics to provide a snapshot of livability and well-being in Greater Victoria.
Take the survey today on the Victoria Foundation’s website.
🍾 Paper shredding and bottle drive: Victoria Chinatown Lioness Lion Club will raise money for Shelbourne Community Kitchen Saturday at the Save On Foods parking lot at Fort and Foul Bay, 10am-1pm. [Details]
🚌 Fill the Bus fundraiser: United Way Southern Vancouver Island aims to fill a BC Transit bus with donated menstrual products this weekend.
🍤 Spot Prawn Festival: This free festival in James Bay has music, a beer area, rugby, and of course prawns. 12-7pm today / 11am-6pm tomorrow.
💃 2023/24 subscriptions on sale now. The World’s Best Dance. Save up to $146 off regular prices. Royal Theatre Box Office: 250-386-6121 or DanceVictoria.com.*
💄 Drag Race viewing: Watch a new episode of All Stars season 8, with local contestant Jimbo and performances from Brooke Lynn Hytes and Heidi N Closet. Saturday at First Metropolitan Church, 5:30-10:30pm. [Tickets]
⚔️ Sealion Medieval Market: Dress up and watch demo sword fighting Saturday at Heritage Acres, 10am-4pm. [Tickets]
🏠 The next phase is here! Introducing ELIZA South. Offering 1-bedroom, 1-bedroom + den, and 2-bedroom suites. Discover why so many others are calling ELIZA home! Register today!*
🤝 Now hiring: Human Resources Generalist at Seaspan.
In Other News
🚨 Body found under Lochside Trail bridge; police say death not suspicious
Part of the trail near Uptown was closed Thursday morning after a man’s body was discovered near Carey and Ravine. The BC Coroners Service is investigating.
🏥 Esquimalt Medical Clinic doctor limits practice to people 50+
Dr. Sarah Truelson, one of five doctors at the clinic, cites a family crisis and a shortage of locum doctors to fill in for her. [Times Colonist]
It’s the latest in the recent wave of locals losing primary care as clinics close and individual doctors retire or in some cases go private. BC’s restructured doctor payment model is intended to stem this tide. Healthcare staffing shortages—of doctors, nurses, and other workers—have also affected local ERs.
✈️ YYJ passengers get $1,500 for cancelled flight
BC’s Civil Resolution Tribunal said that summer 2021’s broader “aviation ecosystem” problems were not reason enough for Air Canada to avoid compensating people after cutting their flight from Victoria International to Toronto. [CTV]
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In Case You Missed It
🐈 Victorians are giving up pets to find housing: Limited pet-friendly rental options means that the numbers of pet surrenders to animal rescue organizations is increasing. [Capital Daily]
📰 Friday newsletter: Van Gogh exhibit finally set to open in Vic West, Cowichan Tribes calls for more public support after teen’s death, police incident near Finlayson Arm Rd., and more. [May 26]
🚨 Langford bus driver assaulted: RCMP seek a teen suspect after an Apr. 21 altercation at the Station Ave. exchange. [Images / description]
📰 Wednesday newsletter: Local vegetation needs more than a lawn-mowing hiatus, experts say / Infrastructure upgrades for Victoria heliport and Malahat rest stop / Pic-a-Flic will close / Monster truck blows fire at ferry terminal.[May 24]
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