With the official community plan under review by the district of Oak Bay, housing has been a hot topic among community members and local government.
Population growth in Oak Bay has remained stable over the past 30 years, with a growth rate much lower than the rest of the capital region. While areas like Langford and Colwood on the West Shore boomed over the last generation, Oak Bay homeowners grew strong roots in the community they love.
“Certainly lots of people stay in Oak Bay,” said Newport Realty realtor Jordy Harris. “Once they’re in – they love it here.”
In 1981, the population of Oak Bay was 17,815, by 2011, the latest census numbers available, it had only risen to 18,015.
The variety of housing available has also remained fairly stable in the district, with approximately 64 per cent of the population living in single family houses and 36 per cent in multi-unit buildings – a total of 6,700 properties.
While young families poured into other areas of Greater Victoria over the last two decades, the population of Oak Bay began to age, according to statistics.
“A few years ago we were seeing people stepping up into nicer character homes, now they’re transitioning. They’re staying in Oak Bay but they’re looking at downsizing,” said Harris.
He has seen a shift to buyers looking at smaller homes with one-level living, although many buyers, he said, are looking for homes with suites.
“It’s a hot topic,” he said. “Some want less space for themselves, or somebody to look after it while they’re away. It’s really quite an interesting change in the landscape, whether people want to admit it or not.” Harris said secondary suites are a real consideration for home buyers. “People I’ve spoken with – (people) currently in Oak Bay and people moving into Oak Bay are talking about it all the time.”
Census numbers also show increasing numbers of Oak Bay residents are now older than age 55. The population of school-age children is slightly lower than it was 20 years ago – 15 per cent in 2011 compared to 17 per cent in 1991. Harris feels those statistics may be skewed. “I would suspect there’s more people there (that are) not on the record. … People living in suites are not (always counted in the census).”
Oak Bay’s vibrant retail sector is a good indicator of that hidden growth with new businesses opening up that cater to a different, younger demographic.