Editorial: Croftonbrook expansion: Yes, it’s the right place
Whenever a new development or land use is proposed on Salt Spring Island, it’s inevitable that the words “It’s not the right place” will be uttered.
That statement will often be preceded by sincere expressions of support for the initiative being discussed, but the person making those claims will insist there must be a better place for it. Somewhere further away from them, for sure.
Opposition to anything new is not only due to a Not In My Back Yard mentally, of course. But adding 54 dwelling units (in two phases) at the site of an existing 20-unit affordable housing development, as is being proposed by Islanders Working Against Violence for its two-hectare (five-acre) Croftonbrook property, is simply not unreasonable.
Yes, existing Croftonbrook residents and those living on nearby residential properties are bearing the brunt of the change and the construction activity. But adding multifamily dwelling units to an area that already has them is not inappropriate by any practical or land-use planning measure.
The location meets other official community plan criteria for affordable housing developments, such as being close to Ganges and near a bus route. Where else close to town could or should this project be located? Appropriate available properties are scarce, and projects are already in the works for some of those.
In the end, the details of the finished project won’t really matter. There will be construction noise, increased traffic and a less peaceful existence for current residents whether a two- or three-storey building is built, or the tenants are seniors or families.
Very few properties on Salt Spring are not already subject to or vulnerable to a use — or neighbours — that will be annoying and negatively impact the level of serenity we have become accustomed to.
Our community desperately needs decent, affordable housing for far more residents than will be accommodated at an expanded Croftonbrook. Just as we are making sacrifices to prevent a COVID-19 outbreak on our island, some of us are being asked to make sacrifices to achieve a greater good, which is to help islanders who need housing while maintaining at least a semblance of diversity in our community.
Salt Spring’s Local Trust Committee needs to do the right thing at its meeting on Tuesday and help this invaluable project proceed as planned.