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Innovative Policies

Full Support to Peninsula First Nations to Lead Forward-looking Innovation

  • Learn from the Wisdom of our First Nation Communities as they have always taken a multi-generational view and have the deepest connection with this place. Their environmental and community values are something we can emulate, and in particular, respect their know-how when it comes to re-habilitating our lands and oceans. 

  • With greenfield opportunities, our First Nation Communities are now best positioned to show us the way in terms of demonstrating what an integrated innovative combination of green housing, agriculture, environment and tourism strategy could look like. 

  • Should I not be voted onto council, I will work hard to offer our open-sourced innovation localization ideas and resources to our First Nations (and to all island municipalities). As citizen-led offerings (see Cinovation below), this will come with no strings attached and no political affiliations and we welcome all collaborators with something to contribute.

Encourage Low-rise Flex-forms of Housing - A Fair Policy that Addresses Affordability AND Social Needs

  • The future is modular and flexible. We know affordability has been driven in large part by financialization (turning our homes into investment vehicles), but a less well known driver are the cultural shifts we have seen. We no longer live in multi-generational homes, and we no longer want co-habitate. Add to this the desire for an investment vehicle and we now see small luxury condos of less than 500 square feet become some of the highest cost per square foot housing in real estate markets, today. These cultural shifts have also contributed to "unaffordability" in the last 20 years.

  • However, as we move away from building only single family homes and adapt to the changing needs of all generations, flexible forms of housing that can change and adapt to the changing needs of different waves of demographic groups is the best solution. Housing experts point out if we were to allow legal suites in all single-family home properties across Canada, this would theoretically be the fastest route to solving the housing crisis. Just this week, BC candidate for leadership has proposed just that.

  • What is more realistic is favouring "flex-forms" of housing in targeted areas will the best way to future proof North Saanich residential properties for age-in-place, rental housing, mortgage helpers, multi-generational housing, co-living and even, co-ownership models. This includes small scale additions to existing homes and properties, as well as purpose-built designs that are coming out of the best architecture firms, but as of yet, have not seen investment on the ground as they cost more to build. We can attract the best in these through innovative funding strategies like design competitions. 

Modernizing Forms of Socialized Housing and What it Means for North Saanich's Housing Policy

  • Our research sought to understand how socialized housing policy in Canada has changed and where it is going today. Here's a quick synopsis. 

  • Before 1970, affordable housing policies were largely designed and funded by the federal government. A similar post-war approach was taken in the US. But by the 70's and 80's it was clear that housing large groups of low-income populations caused both unintended social and economic problems for both the resident populations and surrounding neighbourhoods and starting in the 90's, many of these "projects" had to be torn-down. Unfortunately, much of it turned into market housing. 

  • Post 1970, the federal government made major policy amendments. Roughly, changes to funding mechanisms of all types (direct and indirect), while downloading program responsibility to both provinces, and particularly, large urban centres in Canada in the form of cost-sharing. Post the recession of the 1970's to the 80's, funding efforts again had to be revised as even regular middle-class Canadians began to have difficulty financing their homes and mortgages (similar to economic conditions we are again, facing today with inflated prices and looming recessionary conditions). 

  • Major shifts in policy from 1980s and 90s forward saw a trend in exploration of funding formulas that extended participation to partnering with community-based models like charities, cooperatives and other activist organizations to build projects more responsive to localized conditions and needs. 

  • Where are we today? The underlying macro-economic picture is that we are again, at a cusp where housing costs have seen the largest and fastest rise in history, while very soon, we could be facing both an economic recession, a potentially a recession if we see black swan events related to geopolitical instability. 

  • Meanwhile, new approaches to maintain social and environmental value in new forms of social housing projects are being experimented with and implemented all over the world. However, these projects are currently on a smaller scale as holistic and innovative approaches like these require more money and a higher level of skill within municipal planning teams and councils (see news and analysis tab)

  • How should North Saanich Respond? Housing experts agree the fastest route to "solving" housing, social and micro-economic problems is likely by directly allowing single-family homes to have build legal suites across Canada. This is exactly what front-runner candidate for BC Premier, Evy announced last week (see news and analysis tab). But this is not the current policy proposed in North Saanich's draft OCP, which instead, concentrates all new affordable housing into one small area that will then rely on systemic solutions to scale, will be far more difficult to implement, and may carry with it, unintended consequences - such and moving the Urban Containment Boundary.

The Right to Benefit Policies - A Quick Fix for Areas Most Impacted

  • For decades, now, across the whole country, there has been little to no effort to compensate existing property owners when new dense zoning reduces the market value of their homes. Residents get impacted with lower property values AND higher property taxes with no way to benefit. The situation today sits in contrast to decades ago when most workers had other forms of retirement income to count on. Pensions and reliable, low-risk income investments no longer exist as viable options. Our homes have become our piggybanks and as such, our biggest single asset. These policies need to change and modernize. The neighbourhoods that will bear the burden of the most increased housing should also have the right to benefit. If McTavish is to bear the majority of the burden, the municipality should allow homeowners in McTavish the right to do their own small-scale development (carriage homes, tiny homes, rental additions etc.) and as municipalities consider policies in AirBnB, give preferential consideration to these affected neighbourhoods. This is just one of many easy fixes municipalities can enact. 

Innovative Strategies to Create Many Kinds of Value

The Peninsula Innovation and Adaptation Gateway Strategy

  • Central Saanich and Sidney's draft OCPs already includes the recognition that three peninsula municipalities constitute a unique and integrated gateway community.  This peninsula is one of the most strategic locations in Canada with abundant natural assets, world class research institutes, and a strategic location that sees millions pass by annually on the way to the seat of provincial power. In collaboration with these three municipalities, local chambers of commerce, government partners and other citizen groups, the Cinovation network proposes to create an innovation district that localizes the best in Canadian and international best practices in climate change adaptation, and agriculture and small-scale tourism to make our community, one of the most progressive communities in BC and Canada. We have all the advantages. British Columbia government already has a good toolkit for developing some climate adaptation strategies, but as of yet, innovation in agriculture lags. 

Filling the Missing Link in Canada - Localization Strategies

  • Broad policies and programs set at the federal and provincial level, often do not see the light of day because they never get "localized". This is due to a number of reasons; our government systems are structured in such a way that municipalities have exceptional "local self-determination" over land-uses compared to other countries. Local governments are also under-resourced. This means new civic projects that are not commercially viable, take a long time fund and develop. For instance, the coordinated five-year federal-provincial AGRICULTURE policy and funding cycle will reset in March of 2023 - 2028. This means millions in agriculture program funding transferred to the province of BC will likely revert back to the federal budget, unused, for lack of projects brought forward that fulfil program objectives. However, a new funding cycle will soon begin. WE HAVE A SHORT WINDOW OF OPPORUTNITY TO AFFECT THAT POLICY NOW... but that window will be closed by December of 2022. We must act quickly!

  • Benchmarking against other countries, this is further exacerbated sees by an under-developed citizen sector in Canada. Europe, for instance, has a long tradition of being able to "stand up" citizen led think-tanks and societies that function to fill the innovation development gap. Cinovation is one step in building that ecosystem of civic organizations. 


Start Scenario Planning Now and Embed those Perspectives into the OCP to Ensure Resilience in the Face of Future Unknowns (see Knowledge Hack #X - What is the difference between policy and strategy?)

  • Increasing pressure for competing land uses will only increase in coming years and decades. The island climate is, by it's location, already one of the most climate resilient ecosystems in British Columbia. The devastating flood of 2021 and more regular forest fires will focus more attention on the peninsula for as new waves of population migrating from the mainland to Vancouver were already seen in 2021. As many residents point out, housing is an "open system". Desirable and strategic locations like we have on the peninsula WILL FACE OPEN PRESSURE if well considered limits to housing are not, also considered in the Regional Growth Strategy.

  • Meanwhile, de-globalization of supply chains will not only highlight our privileged position of the peninsula as a logistics hub and therefore, strategic location for repatriating critical manufacturing. These pressures on our land use here are the peninsula will likely increase, not decrease. Already we have run-out of greenfield plots of land. With every new use required, some existing use will have to give way. 

  • Meanwhile, as the above housing discussion reveals, it is certain all levels of government will be putting their best minds to modernizing housing policy with new, more adaptive approaches that are more responsive to today's economic and social environment. 

  • Therefore, North Saanich should integrate a more flexible stance within our OCP approach that anticipates new provincial and federal policies that may very well be on the immediate horizon. Consider for example, in the last Federal election, good ideas to tackle housing affordable were tabled on both sides of the aisle. Liberals supported regulations on real-estate practices to ban "blind-bidding" on multiple-offer real estate deals, while conservatives proposed releasing more federal lands to build new affordable housing stock. These ideas to turn into policy and "localize" (make real in real neighbourhoods), but the ideas are sound. Municipalities can play a larger role by not waiting for top-down solutions from higher levels of government. We can consider these ideas TODAY and whether or not it makes sense for our locality (see localization strategies on this page).

Cinovation - Citizens for Innovation and Adaptation

  • Background - For over 35 years, I have been involved in research and development. When my career began, you had to go to the library or your home encyclopaedia to find research. Fast forward to 2022 and the world is awash in almost too much information. But watching trends for over 30 years, one macro-trend that has caught my attention is what I call "The Rise of the Citizen Sector". All around the world we see many examples of how citizens can change, not just their local communities, but change the world and how best practices are done. 

  • What is Cinovation? It is part THINK TANK and part LOCALIZATION STRATEGY. When we benchmark against best practices in other jurisdictions around the world, we see that Canada lags in "landing innovations on the ground, in our own backyards". There are many reasons for this that I will summarize soon, but suffice it to say, we can do better. The missing link is at the level of municipalities.

Local Community Projects - this content is being developed

Urban Geography - this content is being developed

Localing Agriculture Projects - this content is being developed

Citizen-led Organizations - this content is being developed
Future Cities -
Benchmarking Other Municipal Citizen Groups






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