One rather unorthodox metric of the real estate market in a particular area looks at the concentration of coffee shops. It is a crude measure of gentrification but typically, communities with higher concentrations of cafés selling espresso will also have higher real estate prices. You can draw your own conclusions in relation to Sidney.

Those of us who live on the Saanich Peninsula know it is a jewel – one that is not accessible to all. There are residents, and those who would like to live here, whose vision is of a community that is more welcoming, affordable and diverse. One strategy to see that vision realized is to increase the density and inventory of market-rate and subsidized housing. The anti-development activists don’t share this vision and have publicly characterized developers and architects as ignorant, greedy and opportunistic. Proponents of development have borne lawsuits, heckling, email campaigns initiated by protesters and more.

There is a ray of sunshine in this fractious arena. A YIMBY (Yes in My Back Yard) movement is gaining traction in some of the more supply-constrained markets. Voices that have not traditionally been heard are rallying. Often younger and self-employed, the YIMBYs seek family-friendly rentals in neighbourhoods that offer safety, social networks, and access to healthcare and public transportation. Their view points are important to this conversation and more generally, to our community. Diverse neighbourhoods with high levels of cultural engagement can spark economic revitalization.

Imagine a process where projects are launched with a user-participation approach so the often legitimate issues of existing homeowners can be addressed at the planning and design stages. We would like to see a balanced range of voices from opponents and supporters speaking at Council meetings. We champion a movement that encourages and incorporates the views of a diverse group of people who establish what will be built in our backyards.

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