Saanich in Brief
Saanich is the largest Municipality in British Columbia’s Capital Region District on Vancouver Island and the 44th largest in Canada. It occupies a central position within the district, immediately north of the City of Victoria and sharing boundaries with five other municipalities. Saanich’s physical setting comprises 29.61 km of marine shoreline, 3.3 km² of freshwater lakes, more than 160 parks, numerous natural watercourses, a diverse undulating topography with elevations ranging from sea level to 355m above, and a landscape that includes glacially scoured rock outcroppings, farmland, dense woodlands, and an extensive system of open space and parkland. Approximately half the Municipality is urban and half is rural/ agricultural – a mix that has influenced its character and development.
Saanich has been recognized as a leader in sustainability and environmental initiatives since the 1990s. In 2007 the Municipal Council committed to the development of a Climate Action Plan, an Adaptation Plan, and the Saanich Carbon Fund. This has resulted in the establishment of a Sustainability Division with the Planning Department to lead climate action efforts in municipal operations and the community. Following the adoption of aggressive GHG reduction targets, the municipality has further integrated sustainability principles throughout the organization and into developments in the community. The Municipality has reduced its corporate carbon footprint by 22% since 2007 and has used a partnership approach to leading community projects that focus on building energy efficiency, low-carbon and active transportation and food security.
Thematic priorities for the exchange
Resilience and adaptation: Saanich has conducted flood inundation mapping for its coastline and is now conducting an assessment of potential policies and other tools that can help manage this future risk. It is interested in learning from EU cities that have already experienced this process. Saanich is also currently establishing an Agriculture and Food Security Task Force that will assist in developing a Saanich Agriculture and Food Security Plan for the municipality. Saanich is willing to share the details of this project with other cities and hopes to gain insight that benefits its residents and the wider region.
Ecosystem services: Saanich has put in place a number of mechanisms to protect and enhance ecosystems. A draft stormwater bylaw which includes an evaluation of its benefits to the community has been developed. Saanich is looking further into making biodiversity assessments and integrating ecosystem services into urban planning, and is interested in communicating with project cities on these topics.
Low-carbon development: Saanich is interested in finding ways to transition the suburbs into compact, efficient communities. Focusing on centres and villages development and providing mobility options in the corridors between these areas has been a priority, but more needs to be done. Though the exchange, Saanich would look to find new retrofit best practices and to gain insight into district energy planning and alternative energy programs.