Election 2014: NHRA questions Oak Bay candidates

The North Henderson Residents' Association asked candidates their views on the OCP Housing types suitable for North Henderson

  • Nov. 6, 2014 9:00 a.m.

The Directors of the North Henderson Residents’ Association asked all Candidates their views on the OCP Housing types suitable for North Henderson  and how they would engage the community in implementation of  the necessary bylaws. All candidates except  Ms Kirby and Mr. Johannesen replied. The full questions and candidate’s answers are below.

 

 

Question One

Which of the below housing types do you think would be suitable for the North Henderson area and why?

a) Infill development – by placing additional housing units  (garden suites, laneway suites etc.) on residential lots,

(b) legalized basement suites,

(c) duplexes  and triplexes,

(d) Subdivision of lots.

 

 

Question Two

The  Official Community Plan Community Survey asked for opinions about housing types for Oak Bay  “assuming  key issues such as tree protection, parking, traffic, noise and neighbourhood character will be addressed.”

What method or methods of community engagement would you support to determine if these key issues (as quoted above) can be successfully addressed for the North Henderson area?

In your reply we  are most interested in  the concrete actions, venues and terms of reference that you would support and not support to ensure meaningful involvement of the community in Council’s decision making process.

 

 

________________________________________________________________________

CAIRINE GREEN

 

 

 

QUESTION ONE:

 

 

 

  • Suitable Housing Types for the North Henderson area —

 

 

Let me first say that none of the suggested housing in your questionnaire would be approved without first developing a complete and carefully planned housing strategy for Oak Bay, part of the next step in implementing the new OCP.  I know from previous experience that implementation requires ongoing and meaningful community consultation.  No local government can develop major housing policy without buy-in from its community and that only happens when residents feel respected and involved.

 

 

I believe that housing types described in your a), b) and c) COULD or MAY be suitable for other areas in Oak Bay as well (not just in North Henderson), but any decisions in this regard would depend on the results of CAREFUL PLANNING that includes community consultation as to regulation, location, design and other provisions to address parking, traffic and public health and safety.  None of this can begin until the entire community is engaged in helping the municipality develop a new Housing Strategy and a review of Oak Bay’s zoning bylaw that includes involvement of a new qualified planner for Oak Bay, a position that was approved in this year’s budget cycle.  For d), again, this would depend on many factors and would not be considered without first consulting with the community.  We must answer the fundamental question, How will it benefit the local community and neighbourhood?

 

 

As you know, legislation still guides process where new development or re-development is considered and zoning changes are anticipated — public hearings and other types of community engagement are enshrined in legislation.

 

 

  • Why new housing options? —

 

 

Since returning to Oak Bay four years ago, I have consistently heard from many residents about what they see as the lack of viable housing options in Oak Bay beyond the SFD.

 

 

In fact, if Fred and I had not found the small 1930’s bungalow we bought at a feasible price point, we could not have returned to Oak Bay ourselves.  Finding a townhouse or a duplex was next to impossible and we did not want to buy a condo because of the strata situation.  We are fortunate to have a SFD but I know it won’t always be possible for us to maintain a house with stairs and garden.  When the time came that we either wanted to or had to leave this house, but wanted to remain in the community we love, where would we go?  We have two dogs, one less that a year old, so renting something with ground access would be a great challenge for us.  There are limited options for a townhouse and no new duplex housing has been built since 1966.  There are also very few small one storey on crawl space houses in Oak Bay.  You can see that our options and choices are very limited and this is true for hundreds of people in similar circumstances.

 

 

A good friend and her husband just sold and moved from their larger home on Island Road.  They scoured Oak Bay for months before, trying to find suitable alternatives that they could afford and would meet their needs.  They were looking for a townhouse because they no longer wanted the big house and garden they owned.  They could find nothing in Oak Bay and were forced to buy a townhouse in the Rockland area.  They had lived in Oak Bay for 40 years and she was a great community volunteer.  She and her husband love Oak Bay and were saddened to leave because of what they feel was lack of choice in housing.

 

 

These are real stories and real people.  This is happening in Oak Bay and we are losing not only taxpayers but residents who give a lot to this community.  We also have village economies to sustain and if we continually lose people to other parts of the region because of the lack of housing options, then our local economy, businesses, organizations, volunteers and other aspects of community life are threatened in my view.

 

 

Greater choice for housing was explicitly expressed as a need in Oak Bay by a majority of respondents to the OCP questionnaire.  I also realize that housing choice is connected to fears about infill and densification, words that are part of contemporary planning language and commonly used in most OCPs across the CRD.  In fact, the Local Government Act requires communities to address housing diversity in their OCPs and consistent with the CRD’s Regional Sustainability Strategy and guidelines around Regional Context Statements.

 

 

As long as we carefully plan and manage the where’s, how’s, what’s and why’s of providing housing choice in Oak Bay, ensuring that housing remains a community benefit, fits with our unique neighbourhoods, preserves heritage, protects local environments, addresses issues of traffic volume, parking and transportation needs, and meets emerging needs of existing and new Oak Bay residents, then I have a question for you —— how can it be harmful to quality of life and community to continue to serve our residents wisely when it comes to housing options, the first most important element to social well-being and sense of place and belonging?

 

 

QUESTION TWO:

 

 

  • Methods of Community Engagement —

 

 

Based on my previous experience in implementing a new OCP and Housing Strategy in a largely rural and agricultural community, where residents are passionate about their quality of life as we are in Oak Bay, the following methods worked well and were embraced by residents who participated.  Some were structured on a continual basis to ensure that a transparent and positive relationship with the community was maintained and none of these is mutually exclusive.  These are a sample of methodologies that achieved success:

 

 

  1. town hall meetings designed specifically to address more general community housing needs/issues;
  2. neighbourhood meetings to address more local neighbourhood needs/concerns/issues;
  3. participation by residents in design charettes facilitated by municipal planning staff for specific housing proposals;
  4. community-based information workshops that explore housing, regulatory frameworks and neighbourhood planning methods;
  5. community outreach to provide detailed information AHEAD of decision-making; and,
  6. partnerships with neighbourhood and community associations to provide ongoing information and opportunities for community feedback.

 

 

Key to these is complete, timely and ongoing information-sharing with the public, such as:

 

 

  • Regular Mayor’s newsletters in digital and non-digital formats.
  • Regularly updated planning information about changes to regulations, bylaws, procedures and other planning processes, made available to the public through a variety of media.
  • CRD updates on regional planning and housing and implications for Oak Bay, if any.

 

 

I would explore the feasibility of formalizing a neighbourhood consultation process for any developer who was considering development in Oak Bay.

 

 

I would explore, in consultation with staff and community, creating an Advisory Planning Commission that would vet development applications upon referral from Council, based on sustainability guidelines (please visit the BC Sustainable Energy Association’s (BCSEA) website for their five “questions to candidates” on sustainable practices) and visit my website for my answers to these questions.  This new Commission could integrate roles and responsibilities of the Advisory Design Panel and Environment Committee and include Heritage Commission and Parks and Recreation Commission liaisons to ensure that these voices are part of recommendations to Council, on all development and re-development in Oak Bay.

 

 

These are suggested ideas, some of which you will find in more general terms in my campaign materials and on my websit

 

 

 

 

NILS JENSEN

 

 

Question One on housing types

I believe that decisions like this are best taken after broad consultation with the community. That’s the process we undertook with the new Official Community Plan, and it’s a big part of why it has received the overwhelming support of Oak Bay residents and the unanimous approval of Council.

That Plan sets out a number of policies to determine what types of future development should be permitted, while at the same time maintaining and protecting the character and richness of our established neighbourhoods. This will be a challenging balance for the community to strike.

Our Official Community Plan sets out a detailed implementation timeline from the short-term (1-2 years) to the long term (beyond 7 years). One immediate challenge will be updating our Zoning Bylaws to reflect the vision residents expressed in the new OCP. I believe public consultation isn’t a step in the process, it’s a constant. So, as we implement this piece of the Community Plan, it’s vital that we establish an accessible and transparent process for updating our Zoning Bylaws and that our final housing strategy encompasses suites, duplexes, infill and subdivisions.

 

 

Question Two on methods of consultation:

I would recommend to Council that we follow the method employed very successfully in developing the new Official Community Plan.

  1. To ensure the broadest possible community access, two residents committees would be created to develop and recommend the process and timeline, and to advise Council on specific changes to zoning and regulation.
  2. Avenues for community input would include public visioning workshops to identify the issues and challenges, as well as broader consultative tools such as surveys.
  3. With the help of input and ongoing feedback from residents, draft strategies and policies would be developed, opened for public review, and submitted for final consideration by staff and Council.

 

 

________________________________________________________________________

DAVID SHEBIB

 

 

I will suggest that the question of ownership is settled with the natives first.  I intend to end reserves. I hope this answers your questions.

 

 

________________________________________________________________________

HAZEL BRAITHWAITE

Question One

Which of the below housing types do you think would be suitable for the North Henderson area and why?

a) Infill development – by placing additional housing units (garden suites, laneway suites etc.) on residential lots,

(b) legalized basement suites,

(c) duplexes and triplexes,

(d) Subdivision of lots.

This is a hard choice as I am not sure if any of them are totally suitable for the North Henderson area. Weighing out the choices, and If I had to choose one them, it would probably be legalized basement suites – although I would use the word “regulated” instead of “legalized”– with the word regulated including things like being built to code, owner occupied, on-site parking requirement, and the ability to enforce (this is extremely important) etc.

The thing that must be brought up though is that by legalizing/regulating basement suites, you are in essence giving every residence the ability to become a duplex (defined as a house for two families). This, in my opinion and from speaking with individuals as I go door to door, is not what the majority of residents in North Henderson would like to see happen.

 

 

Question Two

The Official Community Plan Community Survey asked for opinions about housing types for Oak Bay “assuming key issues such as tree protection, parking, traffic, noise and neighbourhood character will be addressed.”

What method or methods of community engagement would you support to determine if these key issues (as quoted above) can be successfully addressed for the North Henderson area?

In your reply we are most interested in the concrete actions, venues and terms of reference that you would support and not support to ensure meaningful involvement of the community in Council’s decision making process.

Community engagement around this is important and I believe that Oak Bay should look at building relationships by assigning a council liaison for each neighbourhood.  They do this in other municipalities (like Victoria) and it works well as each neighbourhood then has an advocate on council to speak for them, and to bring their concerns and local area issues to.

I would definitely push to have this suggestion come to fruition. I think as well as answering resident’s questions, each liaison councillor would also be expected to have regular meetings with their neighbourhood (ie quarterly or semi-annually perhaps) and then report back to council as a whole any issues or concerns.

As far as the key issues as laid out in the Official Community Plan Survey around housing types for Oak Bay are concerned, I support community input. It will really be the writing of the bylaws that will determine how successful the effort to meet the objective of the survey is. I think the bylaws should receive community input and I recommend the formation of advisory groups to study and report back to accomplish that.

 

 

________________________________________________________________________

TOM CROFT

 

Question One

 

Which of the below housing types do you think would be suitable for the North Henderson area and why?

 

a) Infill development – by placing additional housing units (garden suites, laneway suites etc.) on residential lots,

 

(b) legalized basement suites,     I am in favor of regulating/legalizing existing and new secondary suites. In my view this strategy is best for the North Henderson area since it will offer affordable housing for students, seniors and more permanent residents to Oak Bay as well as help to maintain the optical character of the neighbourhood.

 

(c) duplexes  and triplexes,

 

(d) Subdivision of lots.

 

Question Two

 

The Official Community Plan Community Survey asked for opinions about housing types for Oak Bay  “assuming  key issues such as tree protection, parking, traffic, noise and neighbourhood character will be addressed.”

 

What method or methods of community engagement would you support to determine if these key issues (as quoted above) can be successfully addressed for the North Henderson area?

 

In your reply we are most interested in  the  concrete actions, venues and terms of reference  that you would support and not support to ensure meaningful involvement of the community in Council’s decision making process.

 

I believe that the work of community/neighbourhood associations is a valuable component to the overall health and nature of Oak Bay.  Seeking the input of the community is paramount in moving our municipality forward with its new official plan and with all other issues and activities. That input should be welcomed through committees, town hall forums, and open public debate. A part of Council’s job is to listen to its residents, and, when topics such as amalgamation arise, Council need not fear the voice of its residents.

 

 

________________________________________________________________________

HEATHER HOLMES

 

 

Which of the below housing types do you think would be suitable for the North Henderson area and why?

a.

b. c. d.

Infill development – by placing additional housing units (garden suites, laneway suites etc.) on residential lots

legalized basement suites duplexes and triplexes Subdivision of lots

Heather Holmes – Answer

I believe it may be possible all of the options indicated above could be suitable and work successfully within the North Henderson area of Oak Bay.

I also believe meaningful collaboration with the residents of this area must take place to determine their needs and preferences which are far more significant than the desires of Oak Bay Council.

Residents need to be heard with their opinions respected and valued. Council might consider suitable density options for your area that may not be the preference of residents. As stated within my platform “my number one priority for our community is for us to always work collaboratively together.”

Common sense suggests the first housing priority for Oak Bay Municipality should be ensuring existing illegal suites are safe and completed to code. We know they exist so rather than continue to ignore the issue, let’s find a solution that works for all. We may want to consider developing an amnesty program that encourages home owners to step forward.

I favour this issue to be moved ahead and resolved prior to discussing options for further secondary suites within the District of Oak Bay.

 

 

 

 

Question Two – Yours

The Official Community Plan Community Survey asked for opinions about housing types for Oak Bay “assuming key issues such as tree protection, parking, traffic and noise and neighbourhood character will be addressed.”

What method or methods of community engagement would you support to determine if these key issues (as quoted above) can be successfully addressed for the North Henderson area?

In your reply we are most interested in the concrete actions, venues and terms of reference that you would support and not support to ensure meaningful involvement of the community in Council’s decision making process.

Heather Holmes – Answer

During my research of the Official Community Plan development process I was unable to locate a Terms of Reference document. To date, I am unclear if it exists.

At this time very limited documents are made available to the residents of Oak Bay for review on the municipal web site. Some include select bylaws, meeting minutes, fiscal communications and a small variety of inconsistent documents regarding the development processes of the Official Community Plan. In my opinion, the present Oak Bay Council fails at collaborating and disseminating accurate, open and timely communications to residents.

I am a strong advocate of open government and sharing of public information. I believe Oak Bay Council can do a much better job at sharing its municipal business. Public elected officials must be held accountable in the way they conduct municipal government. Oak Bay Council must commit to its citizens and change how they interact to ensure collaboration, openness and transparency. My platform includes full transparency and the opening of all data to be made available on the municipal website. I will also aim to have all available documents to be published online in a timely fashion.

This is an up to date, innovative approach to provide engagement and involvement of the community at the highest levels. Efficiencies are gained for both residents and the municipality.

Our achievements, big or small, must take place jointly and only with continuous community engagement. No sector of our community should be disadvantaged. The benefits of working together provide collective decisions and results. It commits Oak Bay Council to openness and accountability, allows for better planning, and offers residents opportunities to contribute and influence outcomes which directly affect their lives.

Let’s make it easy for resident participation with regular town hall meetings including agenda items coming forward from residents not Council. I want to learn and hear from residents what is important to them. Focus groups are also useful to determine priorities.

I propose developing an online community forum that provides opportunities to interact with members of Council and the Mayor on key issues.

Finally, I would like to determine interest levels for a participatory strategic planning session as a way to bring together and empower local residents in future decisions of the North Henderson area regarding implementation of the Official Community Plan.

I do not support the withholding of public information to residents.

__________________________________________________________________________________________

JAN MEARS

 

 

Question one

 

 

As there are no lanes that I could see I would doubt very much that a request for such housing would come up – not likely to see interest in town houses, duplexes or triplexes either. Over time though I expect you may see an interest in high end multi family housing – condos –

 

 

But you do have a community of older single family homes on large lots with mature trees. I expect there are a number of suites due to the proximity to both Camosun and to the University of Victoria. These would be unregulated today and tomorrow could be regulated suites.

 

 

Your community might find it useful to support:

 

 

Regulated secondary suites in owner occupied homes. I expect you are seeing that your housing stock is  starting to turn over as the homes appear to be between 30 and 50 years old and relatively large. Current owners are probably finding that they are empty nesters who want to stay in their homes after their adult children have grown up and moved on to pursue their own careers and start family life elsewhere. They could also find them returning home with their young families as well in order to gain a strong  attachment to the labour market and save for their first homes.

 

 

Perhaps others find it helpful – if alone – to have a student or other adult(s) living in the home with them and helping out around the house and yard.

 

 

 

 

Question two

 

 

The next phase of the OCP work is very critical. While this first stage helped to shape a vision for the future, the next phase will be about all of the details that will bring the vision to life. There will be a need for several working committees comprised of staff and community volunteers with the much needed expertise, to work together.

 

 

Ongoing consultation will be a key ingredient to the success of this work.

 

 

Taking the committees and council members out into the community on a regular basis is important to the success of the next council. Oak Bay is a community of intelligent, experienced people with expertise and passion. They need to be appropriately engaged going forward.

 

 

Social media  add a new dimension to civic life. Information can be shared quickly if not immediately.  Oak Bay needs to take advantage of all of these tools.

 

 

I know that you are a passionate advocate for your community and your community’s particular interests may be overlooked by the broader community of Oak Bay.

 

 

An annual meeting of council and North Henderson residents held in the community itself could help. This could help to establish a list of priorities for the area and help council members be in touch with the area.

 

 

 

KEVIN MURDOCH

 

(QUESTION #1)  Which of the below housing types do you think would be suitable for the North Henderson area and why?

 

Support (with conditions): Duplexes and subdivisions, and (qualified support) Secondary Suites

 

 

WHY NOT THE OTHERS:

(a) Garden / Laneway housing is not practical in Oak Bay. Our laneways have evolved into green corridors, do not have services (water, sewer) and are not meant to be accessible to emergency vehicles.

(b) Triplexes: are a higher-density model that does not fit with North Henderson or most of Oak Bay. Further, triplexes were rejected by the OCP survey and that preference should be respected.

 

 

WHY THESE:

(a) Subdivision is a standard practice where oversize lots are reduced in one or more regular sized lots. They are not intended to make small lots, and the current process where subdivision is a staff managed process that looks primarily at the size of neighbouring lots, works quite well.  If neighbourhoods are to consider higher density subdivision, it should be done as part of an Official Community Plan process to ensure it meets with the long-term intentions of the local and broader community.

(b) Duplexes, done well, can fit nicely into neighbourhoods and maintain more green space than subdivisions. The key factor in duplexes is implementing regulations and guidelines that direct them to locations and lots that are appropriate. The FAR committee gave a high-level example of what sort of criteria could be considered, but the details need to be analyzed in detail to determine a made-in-Oak Bay model.

(c) Legalized basement suites I am not opposed to, but recognize the difficulty of implementing in a way that more good than harm. The current systems actually works quite well as it keeps the costs down for homeowners and tenants, and provides easy enforcement of problem suites. The primary downside of the current systems is the lack of accurate information for emergency services.  Details of my policy can be found onkevinmurdoch.ca

 

 

(QUESTION #2: Community Engagement Process:

 

 

First the assumptions stated were absurd and should not have been allowed to remain in the survey. I asked to have those assumptions removed from the survey questions but was out-voted.

 

 

If we are to implement any of the new increased density options, we need to come up with concrete guidelines to guide those developments, and must not be done in reaction to specific applications.

 

 

That process should follow a pretty simple process:

(1) Form a working with technical expertise

(2) Create some draft guidelines / options

(3) Hold public sessions to collect input and ideas

(4) Ues the public input to refine guidelines – recognizing the differences in neighbourhoods and zones through Oak Bay

(5) Hold a public input session on draft guidelines, using real-world examples to examine the impact. Collect feedback.

(6) Refine recommendations as necessary

(7) Present to Council, then make changes requested by Council

(8) Go through public hearing process

(9) Implent bylaw

 

 

Review and refine as impacts are measured in actual developments.

_______________________________________________________________________________________________

TARA NEY

taraney@shaw.ca

250 592 1966

 

 

People in Oak Bay care a great deal about their neighborhoods. This is good and needs to be nurtured.

 

 

North Henderson is somewhat unique in Oak Bay due to the proximity to UVic and Camosun. I understand that many of the houses in the area have been used to accommodate students, and that this has uniquely impacted many of the neighborhoods in this area. Given that students are likely to continue to seek rental housing in North Henderson area, it is important that the issue is addressed openly and with input of all residents.

 

 

As you will know the North Henderson area is part of what the OCP calls Infill Residential Development Permit Area. This means that a future Council can have a say on the “form and character” of any development application, and any application must respect existing neighborhood character

 

 

The OCP currently provides for site, building, parking, and landscape guidelines. These guidelines were informed by residents during the OCP process, and are safeguards that OB has not had in the past—they ensure that any development is done thoughtfully and respects what we value and  love about our community. To be sure there will be differences in interpretation and debate. The new OCP gives greater weight to the input of residents in ensuring any development is aligned with local values.

 

 

Should a future Council decide to prioritize North Henderson for redevelopment, any change of land use or rezoning would need to fully involve residents in the decisions that affect their neighborhoods. They will need to be consulted about what they want for their neighborhood, whether that be regulated secondary suites, duplexes, triplexes, etc. I can’t emphasize how critical this engagement would be. This is after all your neighborhood.

 

 

I would want a registered planner facilitating this process, working closely with the residents, staff, and municipal council. I would expect open houses, town halls, dialogues cafes, charettes, focus groups, surveys to be considered—all tools that can ensure the views of residents shape the future of their neighborhoods. In terms of face-to-face consultation, possible venues might include local churches, education institutions (Camosun/UVic), and municipal venues (eg the new Neighborhood Learning Centre at Oak Bay High). It would be important that venues are accessible to residents and meetings conducted at times residents can attend.

 

 

Please feel free to contact me by phone or email should you wish to further discuss these matters or any other concerns you may have.

 

 

___________________________________________________________________________

JANE RUSSOW

Question One

Which of the below housing types do you think would be suitable for the North Henderson area and why?

a) Infill development – by placing additional housing units  (garden suites, laneway suites etc.) on residential lots,

(b) legalized basement suites, (b) is my choice because a basement suite is contained within the building envelope.  It is important that the Municipality be alert to complaints from tenants who might be more exposed to black mould in a basement suite.

(c) duplexes  and triplexes, There are duplexes in Oak Bay that retain the appearance of a single family home, as they have kept to the original appearance of the house.  The front door opens to a vestibule which has two doors leading to separated quarters.  A similar effort could be made for a triplex, as it would keep up the appearance of a traditional Oak Bay neighbourhood, and preserve green space.

(d) Subdivision of lots.

Question Two

The  Official Community Plan Community Survey asked for opinions about housing types for Oak Bay  “assuming  key issues such as tree protection, parking, traffic, noise and neighbourhood character will be addressed.”

What method or methods of community engagement would you support to determine if these key issues (as quoted above) can be successfully addressed for the North Henderson area?

In your reply we  are most interested in  the concrete actions, venues and terms of reference that you would support and not support to ensure meaningful involvement of the community in Council’s decision making process.

We must address these “key issues” by strengthening the tree bylaw to make it more difficult to remove trees within a planned building envelope. If there is no appropriate way of incorporating additional parking in densified housing, an enforceable Covenant must be undertaken to ban vehicles. (The new Clive Apartments is setting a precedent for Oak Bay in requiring that after all available parking sport are allotted, tenants must sign a Covenant that they will not own a vehicle.)

As for traffic, it has been recommended that Oak Bay reduce speed limits in certain higher accident areas such as portions of Henderson Road and Cedar Hill Crossroad and alongside Uplands Golf Course.  I agree with such traffic calming, and also would press for more deer crossing signs. ( ICBC has a map of such high risk areas.)  I am aware that some Henderson residents do not want bike lanes, but as someone who has given up car ownership for environmental reasons, I think we ought to explore creative ways to accommodate cyclists and pedestrians and encourage public transit. Our noise bylaw is intended to guarantee “quiet enjoyment”, and I favour stronger enforcement.  It may be necessary to revisit the contentious debate over leaf-blowers.  As for neighbourhood character, Residents Associations like yours deserve to be taken seriously by Council.  The Not In My Backyard (NIMBY) syndrome can be indicative of an effort to keep to high standards and an alert that neighbours ought to be considerate of each other, resisting temptations to speculate, subdivide and demolish for profit’s sake.  “The greenest house is the one that’s already there”, and preservation of green space is part of our good nature.

 

 

__________________________________________________________

ANDREW STINSON

 

 

Question 1.

 

 

Of all of them, the most obvious one I would be supportive of is legalized basement suites. The current situation does not work, and the new Official Community Plan means we need new rules and regulations for suites. While I believe there should be restrictions on suites if a lot, or house, is too small, I am generally in support of them. For the others, it has to be something decided on a case by case basis. If the plan for a duplex, subdivision, or infill development is sound, and the neighbours are supportive of it, I would be supportive as well.

 

 

Question 2

 

With the new bylaws that will be coming in, there must be an exhaustive consultation with the whole community. Specific to North Henderson, there should be a consultations and meetings with the members of NHRA, as there should be with other residents associations across Oak Bay. These consultations, in order effect the process in a meaningful way, should be done early in the process. These smaller, decentralized meetings would occur before larger meetings in Oak Bay, open houses, and the public hearing. With this process, the concerns of the residents in North Henderson over tree protection, parking, traffic, noise and neighbourhood character will be heard from all stages as the new bylaws are being written.

 

ERIC ZHELKA

 

 

Question 1: Which of the below housing types do you think would be suitable for the North Henderson area and why? a) Infill development – by placing additional housing units (garden suites, laneway suites etc.) on residential lots, (b) legalized basement suites, (c) duplexes and triplexes, (d) Subdivision of lots.

Answer: Oak Bay is the best place to live in greater Victoria.  People want to live here because our single family dwelling neighbourhoods are safe, quiet and lightly populated.  Our roads are not overly congested with traffic and parked cars. Our neighbourhoods must be preserved and protected. The changes about which you speak would cause harm to neighbourhoods.  The changes would mean more people, more traffic and parking congestion on our streets, less road safety, less yard space, less community cohesiveness, possibly more crime, and more.  Those notoriously harmful effects  have already occurred in other urban jurisdictions.

The first  broad objective  of the OCP was to “Consider increases in density while respecting the values that make Oak Bay an attractive and environmentally rich community”  .  The second broad policy of the OCP was to  “Consider infill development as a tool for allowing more density to fit within neighbourhoods while respecting and conserving neighbourhood character.  Infill development was defined  in the plan as  development that is constructed in an already developed area. It can come in different forms, scale and character. It includes secondary suites, additional housing units on a residential lot, and dividing detached homes into multiple units.  I have underlined the word ‘Consider” as it is used in the plan for emphasis

 

 

Policies and Plans do not govern Council’s future actions, they simply guide them.  In addition because the OCP specifically used the word “consider” it is clear that the plan did not intend to mandate increases in density nor infill development in our neighbourhoods.  They are simply strategies that council may consider when doing land use planning

I am worried the visionaries who crafted the new OCP policies will not have the capabilities to carefully craft it into appropriate by-laws.  If elected I will work hard to prevent the legalization of secondary suites, garden suites and laneway houses in our single family dwelling neighbourhoods, and any facilitation of the unplanned subdivision of lots.   As time passes, change is inevitable; but notoriously bad changes must be prevented.  Any change should be focused where population increases are the most appropriate.  Strong regulations and enforcement will be necessary to minimize impacts for all stakeholders.

If sound evidence demonstrates a pressing need for change, then I will work hard to ensure that the rights of existing residents are fully protected and that any land use changes do not harm the fundamental nature and quality of our neighbourhoods.

Question 2:   The Official Community Plan Community Survey asked for opinions about housing types for Oak Bay “assuming key issues such as tree protection, parking, traffic, and noise and neighbourhood character will be addressed.” What method or methods of community engagement would you support to determine if these key issues (as quoted above) can be successfully addressed for the North Henderson area? In your reply we  are most interested in  the  concrete actions, venues and terms of reference  that you would support and not support to ensure meaningful involvement of the community in Council’s decision making process.

Answer:

  1. There were two fundamental  flaws with the Community Plan Survey
  1. Firstly, the survey was sent by the  Mayor to all households in the District.  Those households  included not only single family residences, but also rentals and residences in multifamily dwellings.   Consequently the survey measured what all residents of Oak Bay thought as a single group, regardless of the kind of residence that was occupied.

The residents that would be most affected by major land use changes in single family dwelling neighbourhoods are the  owners of those dwellings.

In order to determine what owners of homes in single family dwelling neighbourhoods thought about possible infilling their neighbourhoods, the survey should have measured what the owners of those dwellings thought as a separate group.  Unfortunately it did not.

 

 

  1. Secondly, the survey asked respondents to make the assumption to which you referred.  In my view the assumption that Council requested respondents to make with respect to some of the problems that are caused by infilling were, in fact, promises that those problems would be prevented.

In reality those assumptions will be difficult to prevent, if not incapable of being prevented at all.  It would have been more appropriate for the survey to have requested opinions without requesting them to be subject to an assumption that may be incapable of being met.   In that way, we would have had a clear understanding of what respondents really thought in context of Oak Bay as we know it today.  Unfortunately it did not.

 

 

  1. If community engagement is used to determine whether those problems can be prevented, meaningful and in-depth consultation with home owners in each single family dwelling neighbourhood area under consideration must be carried out.   As an invited member of the recent Floor Area Ratio review committee, chaired by Kevin Murdoch, I was very pleased to see the outreach to all stakeholders to ensure all points of view were included near the beginning of the process and then considered.  The multiple public consultation sessions, offered at differing times to ensure all could attend and provide early input on some early drafts helped greatly to get a sense of the direction the homeowners and others in Oak Bay wanted the committee to go.  An excellent process I’d like to see emulated.  For larger projects, I have participated in design charrettes, something like a focus group, which have assist planning for special cases and ensure stakeholder participation.  I’d like to see these used here more extensively.

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