Secondary suites a hot topic ahead of Oak Bay election

Anonymous pamphlet warning against secondary suites distributed in the area

A study to provide policy and regulatory options for secondary suites in Oak Bay is underway, according to the municipality.

Currently, the District of Oak Bay does not permit secondary suites, which some people see as a possible solution to the issue of housing affordability.

Last month council directed district staff to retain consultants to undertake the study, which commenced in early October. Council had approved $60,000 for the consulting services in May 2018.

READ MORE: Council votes in favour of moving forward with secondary suites

READ MORE: Secondary suites pass another hurdle in Oak Bay

But not everyone would like to see secondary suites permitted in Oak Bay.

Some homeowners in the area found an anonymous pamphlet on their doorstep Thursday morning. The pamphlet highlights reasons not to allow secondary suites in the area and includes what it says are the views of Oak Bay’s two mayoral candidates on the issue.

However, according to Oak Bay Coun. Kevin Murdoch, also a mayoral candidate, the information disseminated does not accurately reflect either candidate’s views. He added that the pamphlet has been brought to the attention of BC Elections for review.

Murdoch points out that suites are one of several “infill” housing options recognized in Oak Bay’s Official Community Plan, along with duplexes, town-homes, character conversions and laneway/garden units.

“None of these are seen as appropriate everywhere, but all should be regulated in a way that meet the housing needs of our community and in a way that is consistently applied to residents,” he said, adding that it would be a “smart approach” to regulate them all together.

“A regulation process that will take 2.5 to three years, only slightly longer than the two-year timeframe just started for suites alone.”

The process of regulating secondary suites in Oak Bay began in 2017, when council included monies in the budget for a public engagement process.

Mayor Nils Jensen told Oak Bay News that, if re-elected, he plans to accelerate the decision to regulate secondary suites to spring/summer 2019.

Jensen added that he has been listening carefully to the issues that need to be explored during the public engagement process that will be conducted in advance of regulation, including parking, owner occupancy, designated zones, suite size and occupant limits.

Elections BC is aware of the complaint and is following up to determine if the person(s) behind the anonymous pamphlet are a third party advertising sponsor under the Local Elections Campaign Financing Act.

“If we determine that they are a third party sponsor, we will work them to become compliant,” said Rebecca Penz, a BC Elections spokesperson.

– With files from Keri Coles 


 

flavio.nienow@oakbaynews.com

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