Once more unto the breach, dear friends! This remains a hot button issue on the Saanich Peninsula and the hue and cry against increasing density is regrettable because it serves as a distraction and negatively impacts our use of one of the most powerful tools municipalities have to create more sustainable cities and preserve agricultural land.
The combination of our walk-ability, low crime rate, culture, access to transit, and visual appeal creates a competitive advantage for attracting residents and businesses. Growth by way of increased density will bring more local customers and employees and contribute to a more competitive downtown core. An economically diverse and prosperous community will support a wider range of working and shopping opportunities.
An important principle in building sustainable communities is to limit infrastructure and resource costs. Building where services such as water, roads, electricity, sewer, etc. are already in place is most cost-effective and quicker. New infrastructure is a roadblock to growth as municipalities are less inclined to develop services that will require long-term maintenance.
Densification is more easily achieved when there is a vision that residents, business leaders, and investors can champion. Absent an appropriate framework, progress will be haphazard and projects are more susceptible to being derailed by dissenters. Transparency and clarity around where and how densification will happen is important to stakeholders. Systems must be in place to provide support, predictability and efficiency for developers.
Perhaps those who oppose the idea of increased density do so because these elements have not been addressed to their satisfaction. It can be a challenge to support a system you have not had a hand in developing. The carrot is that if we get densification right, we will be more competitive and resilient and be even more proud to call this home.
Executive Director, Saanich Peninsula Chamber of Commerce