Letters To the Board

Letter: on Draft Cadboro Bay LAP

As a local resident, I also attended the Cadboro Bay Local Area Plan (LAP) workshop on June 11 at Goward House. It was wonderful to see so many neighbours turn out for a community meeting, but it’s been a bit discouraging to read how some folks have interpreted the meeting and what it means for the future of our neighbourhood.

Many people attending the workshop were eager to discuss the housing challenges in our community, and to consider ways the Cadboro Bay LAP can both support a vibrant and healthy neighbourhood and contribute to broader solutions. Some people had questions or concerns which they raised with Saanich staff. And a few appeared resistant to any change and upset that Cadboro Bay can’t always remain as it is right now. But the truth is that Cadboro Bay is already changing: it’s not a question of if, but how and how many will benefit.

Although the total number of residents has changed little for several decades, the proportion of households in Cadboro Bay with younger adults and young children has declined. All over the neighbourhood, modest older houses are being demolished and replaced by massive new ones. These are changes, but not ones that particularly improve the community. The don’t bring new shared amenities or more customers to support Village businesses; they don’t bring more kids to attend Frank Hobbs or get their first job at Pepper’s, or prospective volunteers to support community groups like the CBRA. They are changes which aren’t really healthy for anyone, including those of us already lucky enough to live in this beautiful place.

The data show that residents of Cadboro Bay are older and more affluent on average than the rest of Saanich, and there are fewer households with young children. The reason is obvious: compared to the rest of the region, the biggest gap in Cadboro Bay’s demographic pyramid is adults aged 25-49 (Gen X and Millennials). This cohort are the ones who have young kids but whose incomes have been unable to keep pace with the massive increase in the cost of housing. They are a group who are typically happy to embrace more sustainable housing forms such as townhouses and apartments, and who drive less and own fewer cars. And they are a group who would benefit enormously from more housing just a few hundred metres from UVic, the second largest employer in the entire CRD.

I believe we need to support healthy growth and sustainable density in Cadboro Bay Village, not only because it’s the ‘right thing’ to do for other people, but because it’s the best way to maintain a vibrant and balanced community. Waterfront mansions, gated estates, and detached homes will always remain a part of this area, but they alone cannot be its future. As discussed at the housing workshop, the buildings in the Cadboro Bay Village are nearing the end of their lifespan, and without permitting gentle growth in the Village Centre it may be uneconomical for them to be replaced. If we’re not careful, by seeking to prevent our neighbourhood from changing we may inadvertently lose the services that make it so liveable in the first place. We should see the opportunities that planning for change offers us in the form of a neighbourhood with more services, public spaces, and a thriving local hub.

This Draft Local Area Plan isn’t about the Queen Alexandra lands or Queenswood; no one wants to build skyscrapers around Gyro Park, and no one’s homes are being developed without their consent. Shifting the Village Centre uphill away from the rising sea, permitting low-rise buildings around it and along busier streets, and allowing older housing stock close to UVic to be replaced with buildings that will support growth right next to where it’s needed – these are positive changes for all of us in Cadboro Bay. As a community, I hope we support them, because these changes will support our community, too.

Will Greaves

6 thoughts on “Letter: on Draft Cadboro Bay LAP”

  1. Hi Mr. Greaves,

    Thank you for your input.

    “I believe we need to support healthy growth and sustainable density in Cadboro Bay Village, not only because it’s the ‘right thing’ to do for other people, but because it’s the best way to maintain a vibrant and balanced community.”

    Here is what David Suzuki had to say about endless growth and why it is not sustainable:

    “The drive for growth is a crate of cancer cells. Cancer cells believe they can grow forever. And they can’t. And it’s the same thing with our economy within the biosphere. It can’t grow forever.”

    UVIC is a part of that problem. It is a corporate entity, which cannot stop expanding at the expense of the communities and natural ecosystems that surround it, including the 11 oak trees on Finnerty that were recently bulldozed to increase transit capabilities toward UVIC and including the protected trees and non protected trees it very recently bulldozed to increase transit capabilities in the UVIC bus exchange.

    UVIC should lead by example and stop pushing the cancerous growth based agenda on the region around it.

    We need to be putting less of a concrete human footprint on the surrounding area, rather than more of it. Keep in mind that UVIC harps on and on again about how this is sacred unceded land of indigenous peoples, yet has no qualm in pushing an agenda of for profit development on those same lands. UVIC is a key part of the same colonization it claims to oppose.

    Thanks again,

  2. Thanks. On the same topic. A great letter written in the TC today:

    “Plan our communities for more livability

    I very much sympathize with a recent writer’s issues on development in Cadboro Bay. We faced the same problem a few years ago with the proposed densification of the area around Shelbourne and McKenzie.

    The approval was based on the flimsy excuse of the need for student housing, ignoring the fact that the University of Victoria could easily follow the UBC model and build its own.

    Construction has started on a series of six-floor plywood boxes that will have all the architectural appeal of the Berlin Wall, greatly degrading the nature of the neighbourhood.

    Close-in densification is not the solution to the Capital Regional District’s need for housing. We have ample undeveloped land for housing without the ongoing need to wreck neighbourhood after neighbourhood with ill-considered, ugly development.

    The housing being built will be around for decades; the nature of it must be considered on that time scale. In a decade or so, the “close-in” rationale for reducing commuter pollution will be vastly reduced by electrification and the “flextime” and “work-at-home” lifestyles will increasingly reduce the need for concentrated daily travel.

    The two factors mean that there’s no urgent need to have densification. Indeed, possibly the opposite is true since no-one wants to work at home in a noisy, small apartment with only a view of the blank wall of the next block.

    It’s high time our local councils recognized that we’re living in the 21st century. Let’s stop planning for the 20th and having our district “planned” by developers in the short-term thinking that we now see. We certainly need more housing, but we need some more consideration of its place in the decades to come.

    Alec Mitchell


  3. Mr. Greaves,

    Thank you for your eloquent and thoughtful letter. I share your views. Cadboro Bay under its present zoning is becoming a playground for the wealthy few, not the middle-class, family neighbourhood I grew up in. The concrete footprint Sasha Izard objects to is already occuring as mega-houses built for a few are going up instead of multi-family structures.
    Increasing density in the village core, or near the transit hub at UVic will allow for fewer trips by car. The alternative is urban sprawl and the Colwood crawl.
    I attended both the in-person workshop and last night’s online session. It saddens me to hear the lack of empathy from those who are comfortably housed for the young people today who are being priced out of ever owning a home. My parents purchased their home in Cadboro Bay for $105,000 in 1977. Based on inflation, that home should now be worth just over $450,000, yet it is assessed at close to 1.4 million. This is the reality for young people today. Unless you inherit, home ownership is a dream.
    I agree that adding housing options to Cadboro Bay will be a benefit to the community.

  4. Hello Annette,

    When your parents purchased a house in Cadboro Bay for $105,000 in 1977, was the area low density, or high density?

    “The concrete footprint Sasha Izard objects to is already occuring as mega-houses built for a few are going up instead of multi-family structures.”

    Multi-family structures are taking the same amount of area, if not far more, as the example of the three house lot that replaced a modest single family home on Arbutus, at which there is practically no space for greenery now, and which the forest has been cut into and will be cut further into in order to put up the last home in the sequence.

    If you are really concerned about the area being taken by mega-mansions, then simply call for the allowable footprint ratio to be limited and/or reduced.

    Anthropocentric Populism only goes so far. Why aren’t you simultaneously asking for the deer, squirrel and raccoon populations to be densified? Why only the human? What will happen to those populations and fauna which will be bulldozed over and replaced with concrete? Where is your empathy for them?

    Similarly, Colwood and Langford are under no obligation to increase the urban sprawl. That is their own agenda. We don’t need to be following it and make a mess of Cadboro Bay in the process. Have a look at Royal Bay sometime to see what I’m talking about.

    “Increasing density in the village core, or near the transit hub at UVic will allow for fewer trips by car. ”

    If that is the case, then why is Saanich proposing a roundabout in the village in order to handle higher traffic density?

    “I agree that adding housing options to Cadboro Bay will be a benefit to the community.”

    The developers that buy up property here will benefit financially at least. That is who is driving this agenda, well along with UVIC that is.

  5. Let’s face it, with the exception of maybe the streets immediately surrounding the Villlage Centre, Cadboro Bay was never really the choice of the middle class – they lived in Gordon Head. 2/3 of the area i.e. Queenswood and Ten Mile Point were from the get go in the 1940’s a more expensive option for the upper middle class and upper classes. Therefore, the argument that somehow there was golden age where everyone could afford a big house in Cadboro Bay but now that is gone so therefore we need to build luxury condos just isn’t persuasive. As for rental housing or any housing for that matter that is non-luxury, it isn’t viable in Cadboro Bay for a developer to put it – and hasn’t been for 50 years. The only possible idea is to get BC Housing to come in but they cannot even manage their Board through their incompetence. They just resigned en masse last Friday and can’t even get through a committee meeting let along build a 10 story subsidized tower in Cadboro Bay. Enough already!

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