Letter: Infill presentation poses problems

Council must provide specifics on how they plan to deal with the impacts and implications of infill

Re: Infill Housing Strategy invites resident input, Oak Bay News, Sept. 2

The description of the presentation of the two open-house sessions sounds as though they will be more of a “show and tell” presentation such as we have been accustomed to. A board showing designs and a question-and-answer period is not a two-way conversation meeting with the community.

What’s disturbing is the council residential housing strategy implies that infill development of all forms has already been decided and is the future of Oak Bay. For the district to be promoting rental businesses like triplexes, duplexes, garden suites and laneway houses throughout our neighbourhoods, prior to public consultation is not a collaborative approach.

The Official Community Plan is clear. It states, “Housing Policies – Consider Different Forms of Infill Housing,” and the OCP Housing Objectives lists a whole range of community infill concerns that will be addressed prior to consultation.

Unfortunately it is far too prevalent these days for politicians to present their plans with no specifics – “ends but no means” and the “how to” left unexplained. It will be interesting to see Saturday if the presentations explain the inherent risks to the community that come with infill development, and there are many.

Tax implications for all residents, substantial new enforcement costs, infrastructure upgrades, vacation rental by owner, multiple tenants, absentee landlords, parking and traffic, etc. The OCP lists a few more: “noise, tree and green space loss and effects on neighbouring properties and neighbourhood character.”

The other big problem with the meeting is it’s not even in Oak Bay but is to be held in Saanich – in the far reaches of the University of Victoria, on the second floor of a building that is not easy to locate. Parking and transportation costs are to be at the expense of those attending. The small meeting room only holds about 80 people.

Now it is possible that all Oak Bay meeting venues, of which there are many, were booked on this date but surely, given the dramatic zoning changes involved, a new date or more advanced planning was necessary.

In contrast the by-invitation-only engagement meeting with development industry representatives, outlined in the article, was held by the municipality in the Oak Bay Windsor Park Pavilion.

Victoria, Vancouver and most B.C. communities that have introduced the kinds of infill development suggested by council are struggling with all the problems they cause.

Council must provide some specifics on how they plan to deal with the severe impacts and implications involved. They must provide examples of where allowing infill throughout a community has been successful and not just fund expensive consultants to come over from Vancouver and present infill scenarios that have resulted in serious livability problems in that municipality.

Anthony Mears

Oak Bay