I once read that if you want to know how the world works look at people’s incentives.
While I believe you are entitled to your opinions, I also believe you should declare if you have a vested interest in promoting them. This is why I am questioning a number of letters that have appeared in the Oak Bay News in the recent summer weeks.
These letters strongly support the proposed new Official Community Plan (OCP) guidelines for much higher density and population growth in Oak Bay. Our mayor has said he also supports these views that are in favour of open-ended development of single-family areas – fair enough. However, the common theme throughout these pro-densification opinions suspiciously use the same unfounded benefit arguments presented by the development industry. This is understandable as this much higher densification will make developers lots and lots of money from these high cost, multi-dwellings and infills.
Unfortunately these pro-density letters have included some name calling, which is a tactical way of trying to invalidate solid positions when yours are weak. The main point however, is the writers have only cited ideal, or at best speculative, high-density positive scenarios, however they never actually deal with, or contradict, the damaging effects listed by those who are expressing caution. There is plenty of evidence available outlining the negative impacts of over-densification.
The main reason for opposing the dramatic OCP changes is there has never been full consideration and, more importantly, any planning for the negative impacts on the community that this much higher density will result in.
There has also not been any explanation of how the pace and scale of the council recommended OCP development proposals will be regulated, or for that matter how to avoid the serious problems incurred by other communities who have introduced these same types of zoning guidelines.
It’s never sound policy to introduce dramatic changes, like the changes that allowed monster houses and, then try to deal with the negative fallout after the fact. Particularly when dramatic zoning allowances will be introduced to replace the existing much lower land use zoning – the zoning existing residents had to follow to build their homes.
It would be better to take a much closer look at what the pro-densifiers have presented in the name of progress and growth.
The proposed changes are not council’s elected mandate as these changes will dramatically alter our zoning bylaws, impact single-family areas and will fail to balance existing property rights with new higher density development.
Council’s agenda is primarily concerned with assisting the few at the expense of the majority of Oak Bay residents. As these changes will have a major impact on the character of Oak Bay – a much better option would be to follow Oak Bay’s current community plan and the (appointed) 2013 community plan review committee’s published goal of “establishing a frame work that allows gradual, sustainable growth.”