Small-town charm, community pride and a rich agricultural heritage define Central Saanich’s place within the Saanich Peninsula.

Q&A with Central Saanich

Spanning the middle of the Saanich Peninsula, Central Saanich is a thriving community focused on achieving a balance that supports healthy, sustainable lifestyles, a strong local economy and an abundance of green spaces.

Local on the territories of the W̱SÁNEĆ people, Central Saanich boasts the highest concentration of agricultural production working farms in the region (farming has been a staple since the 1860s). Businesses flourish in the District’s commercial centres in Saanichton and Brentwood Bay, as well as in the industrial/manufacturing hub at Keating Business Park. The region is also home to several of Greater Victoria’s most popular tourism venues — Butchart Gardens and the Saanich Pioneer Museum — as well as a burgeoning wineries, breweries and distilleries.

The SȾÁUTW̱(Tsawout) and W̱JOȽEȽP (Tsartlip) First Nations are a respected and vital part of the community. In fact, Central Saanich is the only municipality in the region with First Nations governments located within its jurisdictional boundaries. The Tsawout and Tsartlip First Nations are part of the Corporation of the District of Central Saanich Letters Patent, a document giving legal status to the municipality, a unique inclusion within British Columbia and in Canada.

To find out more about the community’s perspective on growing a healthy regional economy, SIPP talked with Patrick Earl, Community Economic Recovery Coordinator for the District of Central Saanich.

Patrick Earl, Community Economic Recovery Coordinator, District of Central Saanich.

Why did the District of Central Saanich join South Island Prosperity Partnership?

Working as a region on investment attraction initiatives provides a more cohesive voice when targeting established economic sectors and emerging opportunities. A regional voice provides more opportunities into global markets.

What do you see as key to growing a resilient, robust economic future for our region?

Striving to infill value chains into existing economic sectors with considerations of community economic development. Always considering economic diversity, housing, education, expertise and quality of life are critical to ensure the vitality of the region. 

What is our region’s secret sauce when it comes to competing internationally to attract quality talent, businesses with household sustaining jobs, and investment?

Climate compared to the rest of the country, amenities, geographic location to global markets and regional logistic hubs are an advantage. Being a desired tourism destination highlights the aspects of the quality of life in the region. 

What are you most excited about in terms of your own District of Central Saanich’s plans and potential?

Balancing the opportunities for growth and diversity while maintaining a focus on the community’s quality of life and well-being is something that resonates with the municipality. Fiscal responsibility and tackling challenges with opportunities to innovate is part of regular conversation and planning here. 

What’s one thing about Central Saanich you really want people to know that they probably don’t know? 

We really want to define our story and collaborate and not work in silos. Although our neighbourhoods and communities across the South Island are unique, we see ourselves as a component of a greater story. 

What challenges are you most invested in helping our community overcome and why?

Aspects of recovery seem to be constantly changing, but the one important aspect that seems to be a challenge across all sectors is available labour. Focusing on that also tracks into housing, affordability and transportation.

What lessons have most profoundly impacted you since the pandemic sent shockwaves through our community and economy?

Mental health challenges have really come to light. Its effects seem to challenge people in many different ways from the pandemic itself and the economic and social pressures. Where understanding data and patterns was a traditional way to understand and plan around, mental health challenges deal more with people directly and is a new dynamic.

When you envision the South Island region in 2040, what will have changed? What does our future look like?

Available affordable land, economic diversity, supporting an ageing population, and the environment will be a challenge towards 2040. If the region can innovate and work together and mitigate those challenges, then the future looks bright.