Letters To the Board

Letter: Cadboro Bay local area plan considerations and answers needed for plan forward

Letter submitted by Cadboro Bay Resident to Saanich Council:

Dear Mayor and Council Members,

I have lived in the Cadboro Bay area since 2011. I am looking out my window at one of the taller fir trees in the neighbourhood, between 100 and 120 feet tall.  This is similar in height to the 2016 or so Uptown plans that included the tallest proposed building in Saanich at the time. Please consider that for a moment. You are now proposing to allow buildings of this height in the residential Cadboro Bay Village.

Please also note that I DO NOT own property in the Cadboro Village area so do not have “a horse in this race”.

The Local Area Planning process has been underway for several years and has included provision for higher density (infills, low rises, garden suites etc). Saanich, at the Mayor’s request has now intervened in the LAP process with proposals for much densification including buildings to 8 or 10 stories in height. A few facts for you to consider:

[1] Cadboro Bay:

– Cadboro Bay is Saanich’s one and only beachside village. If it gets ruined it will be permanent.

– Cadboro Bay accounts for 3.6% of Saanich population and about 4,000 persons (officially). At an average of 2.6 persons per house, this is about 1,540 houses. At an average market price of $1,800,000 this is $2.77 billion of real estate value in play.

– Cadboro Bay has a significant “shadow” population living in legal suites, illegal suites (non-code complying regarding height, fire safety, egress, room size, windows, etc), garages, accessory buildings / sheds and crowded rental houses including those with students. There are also vacation rentals that house more people throughout the year. The actual population is likely not known, but DOES include a variety of income levels and a large number of renters.

– For reference, my street has approximately 30 “owner” residents and about 8 renters in houses and suites, being about 21% renters…this is quite different than Saanich’s view of 10% renters.

– Cadboro Bay has many homes with large lots and there are many active vegetable gardens, market gardens and farms in the neighbourhood: this land may be useful or necessary in the future for urban food production as fossil fuel prices (and carbon taxes) dramatically increase food import costs. If we pave this land it will be gone from agriculture forever.

– Cadboro Bay is very poorly serviced by Saanich and utilities.

    – Power outages are frequent.

    – Water pressure / flow is low.

    – Saanich cannot not keep up with its current service commitments such as leaf collection.

    – Roads are narrow.

    – Parking is congested and parked cars often protrude out onto roadways.

    – Bus service simply does not exist or is ineffective in large portions of Cadboro Bay.

     – Sidewalks and crosswalks are non-existent while speed enforcement does not exist, so residents tend to drive their children everywhere for road safety.

      – Saanich recently REMOVED road lane capacity on MacKenzie, increasing congestion, pollution and greenhouse gases near UVic. This will get worse with densification in Cadboro Bay. 

– Cadboro Bay is subject to seasonal flooding, sea level rise, tsunami, and likely liquefaction of soils. Lowlands like the Village often have poor soils for tall building construction.

[2[ Saanich goals are ill-defined

– The Mayor apparently asked for more “diverse” and “affordable” housing in Cadboro Bay. No rationale has been presented WHY this is needed in the area specifically. If my street is representative at all, there are already 21% renters in the area.

– Saanich staff presented plans with tall buildings because “developers” need tall buildings to make profit. This does not lead to “affordable housing”.

– Although not explicitly stated, Saanich appears to insinuate that Cadboro Bay is full of wealthy homeowners and has little to no “affordable” housing and that it is “desirable” to have more people live in Cadboro Bay for some unstated reason. As above, there are MANY, MANY people already renting in Cadboro Bay. Many are of modest means. Saanich does not truly understand the neighbourhood.

– What is the goal for Saanich in terms of new housing, new population and desired number of renters? Why that goal? Is there an assumption that Saanich will house everybody who wishes to come here? Is there a long-term plan for Saanich, a reasonable “ultimate” population and where density is best served (i.e. near infrastructure and services, not near nature)? Why the catering of building types to for-profit developers?

[3] Saanich recent history regarding land use has failed

Since 2011 Saanich has implemented the following:

– rezoning all of “urban” Saanich to permit legal suites

– allowing  illegal suites a pathway to become legal suites

– rezoning all of “urban” Saanich to allow “granny” suites

– allowing Air BnB and VRBO to operate within Saanich

– allowing 7 unrelated renters in rental houses, regardless of available or safe bedroom capacity

– removing necessary traffic lanes along MacKenzie

I see examples of all these housing types in the neighbourhood now. As was predictable, making rentals easier has every time led to increased density, increased rental incomes and more “value” for current and prospective landlords. In many cases this has allowed home purchasers to finance ever larger mortgages by relying on rental income, increasing home sale prices. Home prices are up. Rental prices are up. All by pushing for “density” and “affordable housing”. Saanich has allowed and actively promoted this run up of housing costs by zoning for suites, cottages, increased rental packing rate and allowing short-term rentals.

From an objective viewpoint, Saanich has FAILED in terms of creating affordability. Allowing further densification will further increase demand (price and debt) for lands in Cadboro Bay. This will drive out low and middle income residents and they will be replaced with ever-increasing wealthier people with every house sale and rental. Further, IF Saanich truly wants affordable housing, the only logical plan is to build it on affordable land – – homes on expensive land lead directly to expensive housing.

[4] densification is in opposition to other goals

– Is this approach to densifying consistent with long-term stewardship?

– What are the impacts to runoff?  to water quality in Cadboro Bay? to loss of agricultural land? to increased traffic on the now shrunken traffic system on MacKenzie near UVic? to greenhouse gases?

– what are the impacts in terms of demolishing existing buildings, including materials usage and disposal, to build new taller buildings? what about landfill space? what about the GHGs? what about the trees that will be cut

– what are the social impacts of living in buildings of 6 or more stories? what are the social and psychological impacts of existing homeowners and tenants who suddenly end up living in the shadows of buildings 60, 80 or 120 feet high?

[5] Indigenous Consultation

– Saanich should strongly consider consultation with local Indigenous groups before enshrining the paving over of the Cadboro Bay area.

[6] Recommendations

[a] Saanich should actually do a house by house census to determine population, and house / room condition for rentals to determine who and how many people live here and to identify any unsafe / deficient housing (especially fire code issues) to HELP make housing better.

[b] As part of basic governance, (Plan-Do-Check Act) Saanich should validate the impacts its other policies have achieved. What did rezoning Cadboro Bay achieve in terms of legal suites? illegal to legal suite conversion? Granny suites? Traffic congestion and GHGs along MAcKenzie from lane removals? Laissez faire approach to short-term rentals? Are tweaks required in these policies above?

[c] Saanich should implement a rental licensing system with a modest cost to owners (e.g. $40 per year per room rented)  to provide assurance to renters that their homes are safe and legitimate. Renters in illegal suites can be compromised in numerous ways (financially, emotionally, sexually, etc) by landlords as the renters may be fearful of losing their homes.

[d] A recent AirBNB search for “Saanich” indicated 355 available stays for a weekend in August 2022 (see screenshot).


There are likely more units than this. VRBO also provides short-term rentals. Saanich needs to remove short-term rentals (Air BNB, VRBO, etc) from the rental pool, aggressively fining non-compliant listers. Rentals that are removed from the market can of course fall under the Provincial “vacancy tax” program.  Saanich needs to vigorously pursue this and, if mobilisation and cost are issues, could outsource enforcement on a commission basis. By simply lifting a pen, Saanich could free up hundreds of rental accomodations. Or it could enact changes to LAPs, wait for developers to arrange blocks of land, prepare plans, demolish buildings and build new ones, fill the landfill, enrage communities, and perhaps ruin neighbourhoods to try build the same number of units.

[e] Saanich needs to engage local Indigenous groups as part of the LAP process to gain perspective from peoples who have lived here for millennia (in contrast to the Saanich municipal perspective which ia about 150 years old and based on a colonial view of ever-increasing settlement, development and densification).

[f] Saanich should answer every question raised in this submission. I have read other submissions about this issue and many of the concerns arise again and again. The community needs transparent and complete answers.

Please do not jam through changes to a multi-year LAP which was notionally public-led and semi-democratic. Saanich simply does not understand enough about the neighbourhood. Based on Saanich’s previous actions, Saanich does not understand the economics and responses of the housing market – please do not interfere further: if Cadboro Bay becomes ruined, there will be no fixing it.

Saanich, you can do better!


Kelly Finigan

1 thought on “Letter: Cadboro Bay local area plan considerations and answers needed for plan forward”

  1. Hello Kelly,

    Very well put and detailed. I couldn’t agree more. As a fellow Cadboro Bay resident, I will be running against this agenda of unfettered development and the doublespeak on housing that we are being inundated with.

    Higher density is more expensive per square meter and worse for the environment. Dense expensive to live in cities like New York, Tokyo and Toronto are living proof that density has a huge carbon footprint and the UN has noted that cities are responsible for over two thirds (the bulk) of global C02 emissions. It is as simple as that, yet huge amounts of resources are being spent to convince the public that it is the reverse that is the case. This is called urban greenwashing.

    I will also be calling for Saanich to withdraw its membership from the Urban Development Institute, which acts as a lobby for what it calls BC’s largest industry: development. How can a level of government be a member of an organization that among its principle functions is to lobby the government and there not be present a conflict of interest? Especially when said institute has also donated money to the party in power and donated bottles of wine to the minister of housing.

    It has also received close to $300,000 of federal funding in the last 12 months.


    Among its most active recent lobbying efforts has been promoting densification along transport corridors. Cadboro Bay and the Shelbourne Valley have been part of the targeted push to develop transport corridors by leading politicians and the municipality:


    The Urban Development Institute is considered a stakeholder on the future of Cadboro Bay and was consulted in a meeting as such on December 7th 2021 by the municipality, which as stated already is a member of that institute.

    Please help separate Lobby and State and vote to put my voice on Council On October 15th,

    http://www.SashaIzard.com for more info.

    Thank you,

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