When paving isn’t paving

Council defers variance request for rocky landscaping

Four words “or other similar material” in a bylaw kept council occupied during its committee meeting Nov. 16.

In the end, councillors opted to defer rather than deny an application for variance from 25 per cent paved surface front yard adjacent to Willows Park to 88.5 per cent.

“It feels like we’re voting on the wording and not the intent,” said Coun. Kevin Murdoch.

The homeowner replaced grass landscaping with loose rock, which translates in the bylaw to a “paved surface.”

The definition of paved surface in Oak Bay’s bylaw includes “land surfaced by asphalt, macadam, concrete, interlocking bricks, paving stones, gravel or other similar material.”

“It really isn’t a paved surface, you can drive on,” said Coun. Michelle Kirby. “This is why we have variances.”

The problem, pointed out by Mayor Nils Jensen, is the variance would open the door for future owners to pave 88 per cent, despite intent of the current property owner.

Rather than deny, council opted to defer the application to a future committee meeting, with more information on how the bylaw could be altered to reflect the permeable surface as opposed to paving.