THis letter was sent to Saanich Council on June 8 as a response to the proposal to increase the number of unrelated occupants allowed in a single family dwelling.

In the time before the Covid-19 pandemic, the  Gordon Head Residents’ Association had an opportunity to take part in and host two community meetings on the subject of the Unrelated Occupancy Zoning By-law amendments being considered by Saanich Council.   I will attach two documents to this email outlining some of the comments, discussions and concerns posed by those who participated in the meetings.

In January, the GHRA sent an email to Saanich Mayor and Council posing a number of questions regarding any implementation of the proposed revisions to the by-law.  We asked about licensing, rezoning and bylaw enforcement.  Also queried was whether, should the bylaw changes pass,  Saanich would consider a reclassification for houses where a number of rooms are rented out, as they could be considered a business and as such would need to be regulated and controlled. 

With higher occupancy, the ever present issue regarding parking would be exacerbated. How does the municipality plan on dealing with the safety issues that will ensue?  Also, how does the municipality plan on dealing with drainage issues as we are seeing that landlords are choosing to pave over lawns, boulevards and gardens to accommodate additional parking needs?  

It is our hope that, in the ensuing months since the letter was sent, Saanich Mayor and Council have had an opportunity to reflect on the issues raised and devise plans  that will answer some if not all of the questions posed. 

The proposed change to the existing by-law would have a major impact on the way of life of many of the residents of Gordon Head. We therefore ask that Council listen carefully to their concerns, reflect on the consequences it will impose and reconsider the timing of any implementation. 

Over the next few years, approximately 1660 new units will be added to the housing stock in Gordon Head alone.   Two major contributors to the numbers will be the University Heights development coming in at 618 units and the University of Victoria Student housing project with 623 new student beds.  Also included in the numbers are units associated with infill development (main dwelling, suites and garden homes).    

As a result of CoVid-19 student housing in the community will decrease as the University of Victoria goes to a virtual learning model of teaching.  Given this new reality and the additional housing stock that will be coming onboard within the next few years we ask that Council postpone any changes to the Unrelated Occupancy By-law until after the units have been built and students return to campus. 

Thank you for the opportunity to provide input before the Public hearing on June 20th

Chris Poirier-Skelton, Chair

Gordon Head Residents’ Association