The BC Housing supportive housing project on East Saanich Road has surprised residents and has generated a lot of questions about what is planned and how it will be operated.
The following is to help clarify how residents can learn more, address common questions the District is receiving, and to clarify the roles of BC Housing and the District of Central Saanich.
This is an important topic in our community, and it will continue to generate dialogue and a diversity of views. What’s important is that these conversations are respectful, they’re constructive and we are working towards solutions. The District, BC Housing, stakeholders and residents can ensure the best outcome for the community if we maintain constructive and respectful relationships.
- Council letter to BC Housing, April 19, 2021
- Council letter to Honourable David Eby, May 14, 2021
- Council letter to Honourable David Eby and BC Housing, June 22, 2021
- Council letter to MLA Adam Olsen, June 30, 2021
- Honourable David Eby response, August 10, 2021
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
- Who has the authority to determine what is built in our community?
- What is the land zoned for? When was it zoned for this use?
- What is the vision for the larger site?
- What role does the municipality have in the development?
- Does the municipality collect Development Cost Charges for this development? What about amenity contributions?
- When did the municipality learn about the current plan for supported housing?
- Why didn’t Central Saanich have a public hearing on this matter?
- Can the municipality zone this site differently or stop this project?
- What property taxes are paid by BC Housing?
- What resources does the District have to support this new infrastructure?
- Who can I direct my concerns about this project to?
1 Who has the authority to determine what is built in our community?
Municipal zoning bylaws regulate the use, size, height, density and location of buildings on properties within the municipality. The Zoning Bylaw regulates what can be built, how big a building can be, and the use(s) that are permitted for each property. The zoning does not regulate who can reside in a building or utilize the services offered on a property. If a development meets the approved municipal zoning for that property, the local government has no legal authority to prevent its progress. In addition, the Provincial Government also has the authority under Section 14(2) of the Interpretation Act, to bypass municipal zoning requirements. This is not the case in this instance, however the Province, including crown corporations, have the ability to bypass municipal land-use should they feel necessary.
2 What is the land zoned for? When was it zoned for this use?
1909 Prosser was zoned RM-5 “Residential Attached”. The land was rezoned from A-1 to RM-5 on October 15, 2018 (A-1 means agricultural land, but this parcel and the ones surrounding it are not in the Agricultural Land Reserve; the Agricultural Land Commission excluded them in Oct 1991, against Council's recommendation). Permitted uses include multi-unit residential apartments and home occupation. Supportive housing is a residential use and is permitted within the current zoning. The municipality zones for how the land will be used, not who will live there. For more information about what supportive housing is, please see: https://letstalkhousingbc.ca/central-saanich-1909-prosser
3 What is the vision for the overall site?
The housing development at 1909 Prosser Road is for two buildings. One is the 39 unit supportive housing project with a mix of unit types. The property owner is Westurban Development Ltd. Once developed, it will be owned by BC Housing.
The other building is zoned to permit a residential rental apartment. The approved plans permit a 50-unit rental apartment building with a mix of studios, one bedroom and two-bedroom units.
4 What role does the municipality have in the development?
The municipality has different roles:
- Currently, the municipality’s role in the project is to ensure the development complies with building and engineering bylaws.
- The District also has a role in helping to ensure residents’ interests and concerns are heard by BC Housing, and we will continue to advocate for meaningful community engagement with Central Saanich residents. The District has been providing feedback to BC Housing on residents’ concerns. The District is also compiling all correspondence related to 1909 Prosser and will share with the Mayor and Council for their information.
- BC Housing will create a Community Advisory Committee, and District staff and police representatives will participate in the committee.
- The District will continue to provide operational services and support, where needed, to ensure the safety and well-being of all residents of the community.
5 Does the municipality collect Development Cost Charges for this development? What about amenity contributions?
All developers pay Development Cost Charges to the District when developing land in Central Saanich. This money will be directed to future infrastructure projects in the District.
The affordable housing component of the project was the primary amenity consideration, however other amenities/features secured include active transportation elements: an enhanced pedestrian activated flashing light for the cross walk at the Prosser and Wallace intersection; 55 car share memberships; $10,000 for bus passes; info packages for tenants about active transportation in the area; ride share notice board; bike repair station for residents use and one for public use; one surface E-vehicle charger and six underground EV chargers. And energy efficient construction of being built to Step Code 3 and solar ready.
6 When did the District learn about the current plan for supported housing?
The project came about quickly as a result of funding from the federal government to assist BC Housing in providing supportive housing.
BC Housing advised staff on March 3, 2021, that an announcement was forthcoming about all of the Region’s Rapid Housing Projects. At that time the information was to remain confidential until announced by BC Housing.
7 Why didn’t Central Saanich have a public hearing on this matter?
Local governments are required to hold public hearings for certain kinds of land use bylaws, most often rezoning bylaws. 1909 Prosser was zoned to the RM-5 Zone in October 2018 (the rezoning was completed by a previous owner); at that time, a public hearing was held. No further zoning change, or public hearing, was required for the residential development that BC Housing has announced.
8 Can the municipality zone this site differently or stop this project?
Municipalities use zoning to regulate different uses of land: residential, commercial, industrial, agriculture. A supportive housing project is a residential use. Therefore, this project is permitted under the existing RM-5 zone and the municipality has no ability to prevent a permitted used from proceeding.. This site is zoned for this use and BC Housing is proceeding with the development to respond to a stated need for this type of housing in the Region.
9 What property taxes are paid by BC Housing?
Provincially-owned (and federal) properties are exempt from property taxation under section 125 of the constitution act. Instead, they pay a grant-in-lieu of taxes. The amount of the grant-in-lieu of taxes is determined under the Municipal Aid Act for the BC government and the Payment in Lieu of Taxes Act for the federal government.
10 What resources/capacity does the District have for police, fire, parks and litter?
Central Saanich has its own police service, and police officers are trained to the same high provincial standards as all municipal police departments. The Central Saanich Police Service is comprised of 23 police officers offering 24/7 police service. The resource levels for CSPS are based on operational needs and desired service levels. CSPS is accountable to a Police Board, which is a civilian body that provides general oversight on governance, including budgetary control, resource allocation and policy direction. As matter of public safety, the Police Service does not disclose specifics on how resources are deployed operationally within the District such as scheduling, enforcement or active investigations.
The District also has a fire service with both career and paid-on-call firefighters, as well as a dedicated parks department known for maintaining our parks to a high standard.
Service levels are determined based on community needs as part of the annual budget process. Property tax, or grants-in-lieu of property tax (see above), is annual revenue collected by the District to fund services levels. Levels of service, including the safety of all residents is a priority, and the District has the trained staff and support of regional partners to address any needs that arise.
Property owners are responsible for the waste generated on their property; where there are concerns, bylaws are in place. BC Housing has an expectation and model for the housing operator to manage litter.
At this point, it’s premature to judge if there will be an impact on operations; what we know is there will be a 39-unit residence with an operator, an operating agreement, and many supports in place. We will ensure that we are aware of residents’ concerns and we will help solve issues if they arise.
BC Housing will establish a Community Advisory Committee for this property, which will create a mechanism for any neighbourhood concerns to be directed to the property owner and operator regularly. Staff, including a member of the Police department, will participate.
For more information about BC Housing’s supportive housing model and this facility, please see: https://letstalkhousingbc.ca/central-saanich-1909-prosser
11 Who should I direct concerns about the project to or how can I get involved with the project?
Please contact BC Housing. You can copy the District of Central Saanich if you would like us to track your concerns, which will also be used to follow up with BC Housing to ensure residents receive information.
For more information
For information, to ask questions, and to provide comments, please see: https://letstalkhousingbc.ca/central-saanich-1909-prosser
District staff have attended each of the BC Housing sessions and will provide notes and an update to Mayor and Council. All correspondence received by the municipality will also be compiled and shared with District Council.