Oak Bay needs housing strategy

Re: “Oak Bay made right decision,” editorial, May 17.

 

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The real story about the proposed development at Cadboro Bay and Bowker Avenue is what went wrong.

A report from the planning department stated: “The development does … precede OCP direction to prepare an urban-design plan for Oak Bay’s villages.” That was followed by repeated comments by councillors and residents on: outdated bylaws, appropriate density calculations, no housing strategy and undefined community-amenity contributions. Essentially, the municipality lacks criteria for making fair, equitable and informed decisions.

The site was declared challenging; no mention of the nine penthouse units each with two parking stalls. That bonus was achieved by concessions on property-line setbacks and “on-street parking” to fulfil requirements for retail parking.

Affordable/inclusive housing was achieved by including a few small, adaptable condos and ensuring the condo rules permit rentals. That differs from the intent of the official community plan and the Local Government Act for development-permit areas. Community amenities included replacement of sidewalks and trees and a contribution to improve the (problem) intersection. Members of council and the community rejected these contributions as “amenities.”

Frequent comparisons were made with the City of Victoria. That was done without acknowledging Victoria has assessment criteria for urban-design plans, density-bonus guidelines, and tracking mechanisms for qualitative and quantitative analysis.

Residents supported development, but opposed the lack of transparency and informed leadership. Unfortunately, this will be a recurrent process until Oak Bay creates a housing strategy, zoning and bylaws to guide future development.

 

Esther Paterson

Oak Bay

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