For the benefit of local residents, the following is the text of a letter sent by the CBRA board of directors to the District of Saanich after reviewing Saanich’s summary of its recent charrette on revisions to the Local Area Plan:
CBRA Board members have met and reviewed Saanich’s PowerPoint summary of the June LAP village charrette. Five of our members were in attendance as participants at four different group tables. Additionally, many more CBRA members and local residents have been engaged throughout the LAP review.
Much in your summary of this process and the event in particular is commendable including improved road safety and sidewalks, emphasis on pedestrian-friendly green spaces and community meeting spaces and the envisioned lower Penrhyn design. However, we are concerned that the summary also suggests several significant outcomes that were not supported by the charrette participants. These include:
- Housing Guidelines which noted heights up to six storeys (p.31). Based on the reports of the ten charrette groups opinion was nearly unanimous that three storeys should be a maximum in the Village Core with lower Penrhyn beyond the Element and Promenade condos restricted to 1.5 – 2 storeys to provide a visual transition to natural parkland. “Stepped massing” of higher structures within the Village Core on either side of Cadboro Bay Road was not a consensus reached by charrette participants, but introduced by the municipality and its consultants. At no time was the possibility of six-storey structures brought into the discussion.
- The statement that zoning for Village Core development should be re-evaluated “to ensure conformance with OCP development permit guidelines.” As the CBRA Board, we need to have this statement specifically defined in detail to better inform our membership of its implications. This topic was not introduced during the charrette by the municipality or the public participants. Rather than conformity, what was stressed repeatedly was the uniqueness of the Village site and the need for decision-making on its future to emphasise the seaside village scale preserving panoramic vistas (as distinct from view corridors/street end views) and increasing green space. Visions such as this exemplify an LAP’s function, to reflect the needs and aspirations of residents and constituents and as such are meant to have primacy within the overarching generalities of the OCP.
- Further to this topic, we believe that the design Guides for Village Core Development are too vague. In the end, it is the text rather than sketched drawings and photos that will govern future directions. The guidelines need to articulate conclusions derived from the consultant’s visualizations without which their presentation is open to wide ranging interpretations rather than consensus building perspectives.
- Allow for longer term infill as introduced at the outset of the charrette PowerPoint summary. Aside from such peripheral references as “accommodating new housing over the next 20 years” and sketches of “potential apartments,” this highly contentious issue of increased infill/densification lacks necessary clarification.
- Gyro Park Enhancement: It has been and continues to be the consensus of Cadboro Bay residents that infrastructure in Gyro Park be minimized to preserve its present and potential future natural amenities. Most of the charrette’s design guides do not reflect this perspective, instead focussing on “connectivity and built structures, for example, creating a waterfront plaza with potential small-scale food amenities.” The specific suggestion made at the charrette was for one food amenity at the end of the sailing club parking lot and not in conjunction with any waterfront plaza. Thus also CBRA’s stance that any additional parking on the north-eastern side of the park be limited at most to school bus drop-off, not to facilitate increased permanent or events parking. Adding an interpretive educational centre/outdoor classroom as noted in the design guidelines would need to be developed in conjunction with a marshland rehabilitation project, an idea which found enthusiastic support amongst charrette participants.
CBRA requests that Saanich’s Cadboro Bay Village Core summary be amended and revised to address the above concerns. This is essential to sustain our momentum and faith as we proceed to the next stages of the LAP process.