Opinion: Saanich BC Bylaws Need An Update

Saanich BC bylaws are outdated. If you look at your street, you will see that in Saanich BC one house follows another, maybe a townhouse, and then another house again. There’s a reason for this, and it’s called zoning.

The absence of a lumber yard or a steel factory on your street highlights the transformative power of zoning.

Zoning guides a city’s growth, determines where structures can be erected, their dimensions and designs, and the purposes they serve. This regulatory mechanism safeguards the city’s inhabitants’ safety, welfare, and prosperity while preserving the environment. 

Take a trip back to 2003, when Saanich’s zoning bylaws experienced a significant overhaul. According to Statistics Canada, the population of Saanich was approximately 109,000 in 2003.

Saanich BC Bylaws

It’s Been Twenty Years of Growth

Many of the property regulations we observe today have their roots in the 2003 period – a time unfamiliar with the current state of construction in Saanich BC and the traffic it now dictates.

Fast forward to the present, and Saanich has blossomed into a vibrant community of over 120,000 people, with aspirations of hitting the 250,000 population mark in the next decade. 

Saanich BC has become a hub of development, spurred by interprovincial migration (mostly from Alberta)  and international newcomers (mostly from China, the UK, and India.)

Things Move Slow In Saanich

Unlike Langford, the city of Saanich is not known for making hasty decisions. Much like a contemplative scholar, it considers varied viewpoints, assesses technical specifics, studies successful models, and offers substantial counsel to the district council. This isn’t a bad thing, but at the end of the day, decisions have to be made in a speedy way.

The present zoning regulations in Saanich are relics of twenty years ago, designed for a time when urban sprawl was less problematic, and housing shortages were a figment of dystopian fiction. 

The primary culprit? 

Single-detached housing zones that dominate the district. While these areas ensure the preservation of Saanich’s “small-town charm” and relaxing culture, they stifle development, perpetuate housing scarcity, and drive up property prices.

The charm of Saanich BC

Saanich has long been a coveted gem for its picturesque landscape and small-town appeal, but it’s in dire need of a make-over. We are now living in an era where housing needs, work-life balance, and the environment require a serious, innovative approach.

Proponents of the status quo argue that the charm of Saanich BC lies in its low-density, single-family zones. They worry that changes to the current zoning rules could ruin the district’s character. 

They overlook the potential of thoughtful, planned growth to enhance rather than detract from this character. By introducing mixed-use zoning areas, we can integrate commercial, residential, and recreational spaces that not only address housing shortages but also cultivate a sense of community.

Imagine pedestrian-friendly neighbourhoods within walking distance of coffee shops, grocery stores, and parks. 

Scarcity of housing, inflating property prices

I also want to address the elephant in the room: how Saanich BC bylaws impact the ongoing housing crisis. The stringent zoning regulations have contributed to an artificial scarcity of housing, inflating property prices and leaving many residents priced out of Saanich.

This isn’t a future we should be fostering. By promoting denser residential developments, we can create affordable housing options for diverse income brackets.

This higher density could help Saanich tackle another pressing issue: sustainability. Compact, transit-oriented development can significantly reduce greenhouse gas emissions by promoting walking, cycling, and public transit use over private vehicles. Our zoning rules should support environmentally-conscious urban planning that echoes the global commitment to combat climate change.

It’s Time For Change In Saanich BC

Change is never easy, and significant policy revisions like this one will undoubtedly face resistance. But let us remember: Saanich’s character isn’t only in its architecture or layout—it’s in its people, its adaptability, and its capacity to evolve while preserving its culture.

Let’s make a bold move toward modernizing the zoning rules in Saanich, BC. For in this change lies not just the promise of economic development and diversity but also the preservation of the community spirit that makes Saanich BC uniquely lovable.

We hope you found this article on the Saanich BC bylaws interesting.

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