Oak Bay looks into how to regulate, legalize 'hundreds of illegal suites'


Oak Bay is taking another step toward regulating and legalizing secondary suites.

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Oak Bay council has instructed staff to report on the process of regulating the estimated 800 illegal suites in the municipality and to cost the work for consideration during budget estimates.

Through “regulation” of secondary suites, the municipality would determine where and how existing suites could be made legal, said Mayor Nils Jensen.

“How do we go about creating a framework that regulates these suites? We know in Oak Bay there are literally hundreds of illegal suites and, for some councillors, it’s a question of ensuring that the regulation addresses the health and safety of those suites.”

Impact on parking is another community concern.

Oak Bay’s advisory planning commission had been asked to review the issue of residential infill and had a number of recommendations to council. Those included:

• To undertake the regulation of secondary suites;

• Consider developing appropriate zoning for existing legal and non-conforming duplexes;

• Start gathering data to be used in developing a housing strategy for Oak Bay.

Jensen said council will have to wait until it gets the reports back from staff to determine just how much of that work can be completed.

“It may be possible to do them in a sequence that will allow all of them to be done over the next handful of years but not necessarily at the same time,” Jensen said.

“We have a number of significant projects in our planning department and have to balance all of these priorities in keeping with the ability and capacity of our staff to deal with them all,” he said.

Significant public consultation is critical as council moves to regulate secondary suites, said Pam Copley, APC chairwoman.

Surveys undertaken in development of Oak Bay’s official community plan showed 70 per cent of residents supported regulation of secondary suites.

“The official community plan is quite clear. It gives council direction to move forward on this,” Jensen said.

Oak Bay is one of two municipalities in the capital region not to have regulated secondary suites, Jensen said. The other is Highlands.

Jensen expects the work to regulate illegal suites will be done before the next municipal election in 2018.


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