State of the Micro-Unit Address:

May 5, 2023

The May 1st, 2023 Saanich Council Meeting introduced a new concept similar to the future being marketed to us of having to eat insects to survive.

The new concept? The micro-unit! It's a new form of 'housing' that certainly doesn't dispel the idea of a dystopia, whereby we end up sleeping in coffins in the future...

The idea is that a single lot can house a three-storey building with up to 12 units in it.

The new units will lack a bedroom and come replete with the same “living space and sleeping space, often with pullout furniture”, as staff noted.

There will be no cooling system (heat dome deaths anyone?)

The name of the agenda item might not have given it away immediately however: “New Small Apartment Infill Zone – RA-1A Zone
Report from the Director of Planning dated April 17, 2023
To provide a draft of the Small Apartment Infill Zone and Policy for council’s endorsement”.

Not particularly wheel-chair accessible, the buildings will lack an elevator.

The lots will have a minimum of one shade tree, yes one and the land facing a great reduction of greenspace would according to staff require “sterilization”, yes sterilization was a word used, that councillor Chambers (quite rightly so), took particular offense to.

When asked about the one tree minimum, a staff member responded that they had to fight hard for even that.

When Chambers asked how staff can justify the project scientifically, a staff member responded, “it’s really challenging.”

Others were more enthusiastic.  Councillor De Vries, without the slightest sense of irony on display, said that the concept of the new units would be a “no-brainer”.

Brice said that the design by the developers is “ingenious”. 

Plant proposed it be allowed, saying that it would fit into the “missing middle”, while staff said that it offered a “denser form of missing middle infill”.

Given that Saanich has never voted to adopt the misleadingly framed missing middle housing which increases housing costs through land-lift, this seems rather to be jumping the gun, so to speak.

While Plant and others noted the new units would not be affordable, De Vries at least at one point managed to put attainable and affordable in the same sentence, creating the usual air of ambiguity between the terms.

Earlier in the evening I asked where the idea of these new units originated from.  Staff said that it came from the Mayor’s Standing Committee and that it was adopted as strategy.

Staff also mentioned that they had spoken to 3 developers about the viability.

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