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Letters March 31: Home-sale waiting period unnecessary; can the homeless park for free?

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A cooling-off period would give buyers a limited amount of time to change their minds and cancel a purchase with little or no legal consequences. Jonathan Hayward, THE CANADIAN PRESS

Real estate waiting period is not necessary

The forced waiting period for home sales proposed by the government is not necessary. It would hurt sellers and allow buyers to fiddle around with bids.

What should be done is mandatory home-inspection reports by government-certified home inspectors to be made available by the vendor.

That way buyers know within reason what is right or needs addressing when they see the property. No hidden insulation woes; and foundations, wiring, roofing, etc. would all be inspected and in a report readily available to the prospective buyer.

Allowing people time to get financing, etc. enables unprepared buyers who should have mandatory pre-approval and know what their budget is before bidding on a house.

Buyers should only be bidding on a place they can afford, including after-purchase upgrades or deficiency correction anyway.

Also, why is the B.C. government only allowing B.C. Assessment to show sales data until March 31? Take the monopoly of property information away from real-estate agents and allow the public to see the data that they have paid for year round.

The entire sales history of the property should be available from the day it was originally put in the registry.

Finally, selling a house is not an auction; prices and bids should be transparent. If someone wants a property, they will pay an appropriate (to them) price. I have seen a recent listing for $599,000 go for $820,000 in Nanaimo.

If there was transparency, I guess the province’s property transfer tax revenue would suffer.

David Badior
Nanaimo

Elected officials and developers

After accusing the B.C. Liberals of being nothing but shills for private development for over a decade, it’s good now to see Housing Minister David Eby is now firmly aligned with Langford Mayor Stew Young and totally buried in their pockets.

How are developers able to purchase blocks of homes, throw people out and build soaring condo blocks on existing residential property? Countless neighbourhoods have been destroyed, trees and green space demolished, all in the pursuit of greed and affluence.

This is hardly a solution to our “housing crisis.”

What is the point of holding democratic elections if our politicians blatantly disregard what people want and offer the upper hand to developers hoping to get rich quick?

Oak Bay isn’t Langford. People better start fighting for what they want, because there’s no use crying about it afterward when developers and their newfound friends, namely our elected officials, take away what’s rightfully ours.

Tara Houle
North Saanich

Homeless? You can park for free

I just drove along Elk Lake Drive at midnight. Across from the Beaver Lake Park entrance were parked about a dozen or more camper vans and motor homes.

They are obviously there overnight, “camping” for free! Now, I’m not in favour of the homeless camping willy-nilly where they please, but why can the “rich homeless” park wherever they please?

Norma Huff
Colwood

It takes more than one to staff a care centre

Not to denigrate any competent registered nurse, but to designate and assign one person, in an urban setting, to a facility and call it an Urgent Care Centre is “stretch” of both NDP and VIHA proportions.

Ron Irish, MD (ret’d)
North Saanich

Oak Bay needs to help solve the problem

Oak Bay’s rejection of the Quest proposal — more luxury condos for the wealthy — diverts attention momentarily from the real issue.

That is the fact that almost no multi-unit/missing middle housing intended to increase availability of moderately priced accommodation for first-time home buyers, families, seniors, etc. has been planned or constructed in Oak Bay since the official community plan was unanimously adopted by council in 2014.

This has not escaped the attention of others in Greater Victoria and of provincial politicians who are pointing the finger, and rightly so, at Oak Bay for not doing its part as the regional housing crisis continues to escalate.

Kudos to Coun. Andrew Appleton for recognizing and acknowledging the urgency of the problem.

I lived in Oak Bay for over 40 years, and during that time contributed along with so many others to making the community the welcoming, inclusive and diverse place we hoped it would be in years to come.

When I was chair of the planning commission, our group urged council to legalize and regulate existing secondary suites as a modest beginning, along with other recommendations, with a goal to creating more affordable housing options in an increasingly exclusive and unaffordable community.

In my final term on council, I chaired the OCP renewal committee. The then-new OCP envisioned well-managed and progressive change that we knew would be needed for Oak Bay to adapt to the times and needs of the region.

Very little of that has happened under two successive councils, and the bylaws are still not aligned with the OCP. Such a disappointment and so many missed opportunities.

What I see on my visits to friends and former neighbours are increasing numbers of enormous, therefore unaffordable to most, single-family houses being built and replacing the modest, smaller and more affordable older homes.

It is time for Oak Bay to step up and immediately get on with making housing more available, diverse, and affordable in the community, thereby contributing to the urgent need in the region.

Pam Copley
Victoria

Don’t take control from municipalities

Re: “Housing snub by Oak Bay cited as B.C. eyes permit power grab,” March 25.

I strongly disagree with the provincial or federal government taking away some permit powers out of the hands of local government.

Municipal councillors are elected by the residents of the municipality. Most commonly, they live in the municipality. They are voted in based on their platform.

I have lived in four municipalities in the region, View Royal, Colwood, Saanich and Oak Bay, and I would be writing this same letter if I were still living in any one of those municipalities.

Shifting the permit approval to a higher level will result “a one size fits all” municipality. I love British Columbia and you will ruin it.

Further, if you take away this power from the municipality, what will be the next?

Peter Seward
Oak Bay

Butt out, province, and let locals decide

Re: “Housing snub by Oak Bay cited as B.C. eyes permit power grab,” March 25.

So Oak Bay shut down the proposal for a 14-unit development on “the Avenue,” and the province is looking to take over development approvals to ensure more housing is made available there and everywhere.

I don’t live in Oak Bay, but I know why other people do. The character, amenities, proximity to the ocean and leafy surroundings make it a highly desirable and expensive choice.

All these sought-after attributes are threatened by densification. Oak Bay’s residents pay dearly for the pleasure of living there. I’m guessing they don’t want more density, and their council knows this.

Why then, is there a presumed obligation on the part of this municipality to increase density? Affordable housing is not going to happen there.

These 14 units would have been in the million-dollar range anyway. Most people working in the service sector aren’t going to live there. Most new immigrants and refugees aren’t going to live there.

And I, a lifelong Victoria resident, am not going to live there. I can’t afford it, and I don’t expect Oak Bay to change to accommodate the likes of me.

Langford and Victoria are under a canopy of construction cranes — development there abounds. One hardly recognizes these places anymore. Which likely informs Oak Bay council’s decision-making.

The province needs to butt out and leave local councils to manage local issues.

Kevin Worth
Saanich

Grand plans in Oak Bay, but not much happens

Re: “Housing snub by Oak Bay cited as B.C. eyes permit power grab,” March 25.

I live in Oak Bay and have served on many committees, including as an adviser to the official community plan, the housing retention task force and as administrator of a Facebook page, Oak Bay Vanishes.

When the OCP was completed in 2013, we expected our planning department to update archaic zoning bylaws and introduce bylaws that supported the plan.

The plan supports more housing diversity across the community in the form of townhomes, duplexes. triplexes, secondary suites, garden homes and laneway homes, as well as multi-family housing along transportation corridors and bus routes.

Instead, the administration and mayor and council just keep “consulting” the community and nothing moves to action. Even the secondary-suite plan is complicated and convoluted and not yet in place after three surveys and more than 10 years of questionnaires, study and consultation.

In my 12 years in Oak Bay, NIMBYism, staff turnover in the CAO position and the planning department along with reticence on the part of successive councils have contributed to the lack of action on much-needed zoning bylaw change.

The more affordable smaller homes have continued to disappear and are replaced by much larger single-family homes, many of which are simply built by a few developers on speculation.

Oak Bay will not step up to do its part on new forms of housing unless compelled to. The Quest project could have been a proposal for Live/Work studio apartments and attracted young people to our community or affordable units with some rental housing instead of high-end condos for seniors and out of town investors.

It was not what’s needed or wanted. Yes, the units would have sold for a million plus or minus a hundred thousand, but this does not address the housing problem here.

Jan Mears
Oak Bay

Spread the housing throughout B.C.

I am somewhat stunned at the apparent myopic views expressed by Housing Minister David Eby.

Most readers must wonder why all that new construction is expected to be built in the Greater Victoria area.

Come on, British Columbia is larger than most European countries. There are numerous venues for construction in other parts of the Island. Why cram every new development in the capital city?

The Lower Mainland is also a very attractive location. New housing could easily be diverted to locations such as Langley, Aldergrove and beyond all the way to Hope. What about Interior cities such as the Vernon and Kelowna regions?

We could grow our small communities such as 100 Mile House. If people want to come to B.C., they ought to be steered away from the Island by publicizing opportunities there, rather than developing the lower Island region, which will otherwise become a large “sardine can.”

We have so much land available, let us use it wisely and build whole new communities there, if a housing crunch is really as problematic as our politicians suggest.

Eric J. Ronse
Shawnigan Lake

Sledgehammer awaits if rubber stamp not used

Re: “Housing snub by Oak Bay cited as B.C. eyes permit power grab,” March 25.

That odd sound you’ve been hearing lately is the sound of builders and developers rubbing their hands together in anticipatory glee over Housing Minister David Eby’s looming decision to remove housing permit approval out of local government’s hands.

They must be thinking: “What a wonderful idea to use the motherhood issue of housing to subvert local government’s democratic right of self-determination.” If a council doesn’t immediately give the Langford rubber stamp, down comes the ministerial sledgehammer.

To paraphrase Orwell, we’re heading into an era where all democracy is equal, but some is more equal than others.

Jamie Masters
Victoria

Put the ICBC rebate to better use

Perhaps those of us who do not need the ICBC rebate would donate to services for those who have need, but do not drive, such as to the Mustard Seed food bank, Our Place, Cool Aid, etc.

Government rebates can be an opportunity to redirect government funding.

Linda Cooney
Victoria

Electric-vehicle owners should pay their share

I am fine with the rebate to people with gasoline- or diesel-powered cars.

Why would all electric vehicle owners like the Tesla/Leaf owners get the rebate?

They pay nothing for road maintenance or road construction, like petroleum-fuelled vehicles do every time they fill up. Let’s level the field and get them paying their fair share as well.

Bill Hinds
North Saanich

Appreciate doctors to bring more here

My wife and I are shocked that our trusted physician cannot afford to keep his South Cowichan Medical Clinic open. In two months we will have no doctor and little prospect of being “assigned” one through Health Connect Registry.

In Canada we pay among the most and get the least from our health-care system. As the Fraser Institute said in November: “Canada, one of the highest spenders among universal health-care systems, ranks modest to poor on performance.”

The poor outcomes are due to policy and are in spite of the herculean work by doctors. Every one of the doctors we have known has been extremely skilled, hard working and engaged. Doctors have been stressed by the coronavirus and the weaknesses in our system exposed.

More doctors could be attracted to the province by better appreciating their energies. Pay them enough to make the long hours worthwhile. Allow them to use their expertise through more patient “face time” and less paperwork.

We should be able to attract more doctors. The Island lifestyle is good, but the bureaucracy is bad. What can be done?

Chris and Anne Gatfield
Mill Bay

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