Infill housing strategy invites residents’ input

Pair of public information sessions Sept. 10 at UVic

Oak Bay embarks on a critical component of the official community plan two years to the month after finalizing the guiding document.

The first public sessions to talk infill housing are slated for Sept. 10.

“Interest is already there. We already have people coming in and asking,” said Deborah Jensen, planner for Oak Bay.

Whether it comes down to continuing with individual rezoning applications, or developing an overall strategy, infill housing is something the district must deal with, she said.

The open demand for more diverse housing choices became evident during the OCP review.

“That plan was a step forward for the community, there were some very key pieces that the community wanted to see,” Jensen said.

The guiding document calls on council to consider different forms of infill housing – focused in areas designated established neighbourhoods – such as subdivision of larger lots, duplexes, triplexes, laneway houses and garden suites.

“We really have to balance out interests of every aspect of the community,” Jensen said.

Oak Bay staff held a spring meeting with the consultant team who held a June session with local designers and architects with a hands-on perspective and experience of what clients seek in the community and what may or may not be working.

“A lot of what they were focused on is that there was a demand for a broader range of housing types,” Jensen said.

The significant public consultation starts Sept. 10 with a presentation to the public followed by a question-and-answer session along with information boards.

The presentation and boards could include background details to inform discussion, such as community demographics or maps showing environmentally sensitive areas or special zoning sites in the district.

“I don’t want to be just speaking to people, I want to engage,” Jensen said. “It’s a good way for us to start having a conversation with the community.”

The focus is infill within the established neighbourhoods, including consideration and discussion about duplex, triplex, laneway homes or lot subdivision with consideration for impacts on the environment and municipal resources.

“We will use that to lead into a two-day design workshop,” Jensen said.

That intensive process – with registration open to the public – would include discussion with the consultants on more specific design components of the proposed strategy.

The resulting Residential Infill Strategy would be used as a planning tool to help manage modest changes to Oak Bay’s population to encourage  diverse housing options in response to changing housing needs in the community.

It would take into account types of infill housing, consideration criteria for new proposals, landscape and view corridors, neighbourhood character and traffic flow, including parking.

There are two sessions, both of similar format and information, on Sept. 10 at 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. at the University of Victoria’s Cadboro Commons Building in the Haro Room. For more information, visit oakbay.ca or call the Planning Department at 250-598-3311.

“We just want to get that conversation going with the community,” Jensen said.

The district also launches a survey that day at oakbay.ca for resident feedback on the proposed infill housing strategy.