Why suspending some development at Sooke is a good idea – Saanich News

Alan Dolan | Steering Committee, Transition Sooke

For the past ten years, Transition Sooke has been raising the issue of the climate emergency with the community of Sooke and our elected officials. With the development of the Official Community Plan (OCP), we have intensified our call for an aggressive response to climate change.

We recently proposed that the council suspend new development applications for a period of time to assess possible growth while meeting our climate emergency goals.

In an earlier presentation to the Council’s OCP Advisory Committee, we demonstrated that building more houses increases the number of people and vehicles. That means more greenhouse gases, more traffic congestion, and the loss of that “small town feel” everyone knows and loves.

Transition Sooke is not suggesting stopping all growth in our community.

In our presentation to council on December 13, we said we want more off-market affordable housing development. We must give our young people and hard-to-house people the shelter they deserve. With average home prices nearing $800,000, Sooke is in desperate need of this type of low-cost housing. Housing is a human right, not a commodity or an investment.

We have also stated that we want to encourage the increased development of local and independent business spaces, both commercial and office, in order to stimulate our local economy. Growing our local economy will mean more local jobs, fewer people commuting, and fewer people traveling significant distances to shop, all of which will help reduce our greenhouse gas emissions.

We need to find ways to offer these commercial units at affordable rental rates. The Community Economic Development Strategy, recently approved by Council, offers several excellent approaches to making local independent businesses more viable.

All new buildings should be as close to zero carbon emissions as possible. Technology and expertise are readily available.

Reducing greenhouse gas emissions by constructing fewer buildings, preserving green spaces for growing food and as carbon sinks, and adapting our community to climate change will result in a more resilient community.

A resilient Sooke has the benefits of reduced traffic congestion, a vibrant local economy, food security, better flood and drought protection, improved wildlife habitat and biodiversity, and more natural spaces for everyone to enjoy.

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Alan Dolan writes for the Transition Sooke Steering Committee.


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