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The Douglas Corridor – A Huge Opportunity

On Wednesday, June 6, Saanich News reported on a joint Saanich and Victoria funding application for Douglas Corridor planning. While the report was accurate so far as it went, it didn’t, in my opinion, explore the tremendous opportunity inherent in this initiative.

The Douglas Corridor, which is ripe for re-development, sits in a prime location between Victoria’s city core and an emerging core around Uptown in Saanich. It is, arguably, the best location for a new community within our region. With this in mind, I submitted a report to Saanich Council describing the opportunity for a joint planning process on December 1, 2011. My report highlighted the advantages of co-operative planning for the entire corridor, which really doesn’t pay attention to municipal boundaries, and suggested that planning should be built around three priorities: global sustainability, local sustainability and quality of life and place. It is available on my website: for additional information. Subsequently, at a February 29 joint meeting of Saanich and Victoria Councils, I talked at length on the possibilities such a planning exercise could provide.

To their credit, Saanich and Victoria staff embraced the concept of a joint planning exercise. A staff report recommending a joint planning exercise and a funding application was recently passed by Saanich and Victoria Councils. This is a first step, but a big step, forward.

As municipality and region, we have an obligation to help solve the climate change crisis. Most certainly, we won’t solve it by ourselves but our contribution along with the individual contributions of thousands of other global communities can make a difference. In the corridor, we have the opportunity to build an energy efficient nearly waste free community that could be a model for the world.

At the local level, we have the opportunity to show how re-development can build a community that meets humans’ needs while fitting harmoniously with natural systems. The Douglas Corridor, for example, contains the severely damaged Cecelia Creek watershed. It would be great to demonstrate how re-development can go hand in hand with a revitalized and functional watershed. In addition, putting new residents in the ideal location the corridor enjoys could do much to address our growing transportation and traffic problems.

Quality of life and place for our municipalities and region could also benefit greatly from appropriate re-development of the corridor. These attributes are, obviously, very important to existing residents who cherish the fact that we live in such a wonderful and attractive place. They’re also important to the economic future of our region. We will need future investments of wealth, skill and talent, but--- so will everyone else. Like it or not were in competition for these things with every community around the world. Building a sparkling new sustainable, mixed use community stretching from downtown Victoria to Uptown could do much to insure we succeed in that competition.

So, in the end, we have no choice but to carry out visionary, long term planning for places like the Douglas Corridor. The opportunities presented and the cost of failure to act are simply far too great.  

Vic Derman

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