‘Monster house’ issue up to fresh council

Bylaw to get more public review before Oak Bay decides

  • Oct. 30, 2014 5:00 a.m.

As the floor area ratio bylaw review winds toward a conclusion, a new council will make the final decision.

Council discussed the report during its committee meeting, but it will really be up to the post-municipal election council to make a decision, said Coun. Kevin Murdoch, chair of the committee struck to address floor area ratio concerns in Oak Bay.

“There was some discussion about going through the process quickly and getting it done this council term, but …  it impacts most houses in Oak Bay,” he said. “It’s important enough that the new council has to have a look at it. … They can delve into it as much or as little as they need to.” Floor area ratio, floor area restrictions, modifications for lot size and bylaw terms, definitions and exemptions were among the issues discussed over the last year.

“I really wanted to get it in front of this council for discussion because this council commissioned it,” he said. “They read through it and had a few minor questions. A few people from the audience spoke to it as well, raised some ideas and concerns.”

Most of the concerns, and the conversation of the last year, circled around heritage and protecting heritage, he said. Previous public input included a pair of meetings. One session targeted professionals such as planners, developers and architects while the second session was geared for the general public interested in house sizes, allowable floor area, allowable site coverage, streetscapes and other aspects of residential properties.

The current proposal is to go back to a similar model as before changes made in 2007 to how floor area is derived.

“If you have an older home, you get more exemption for your basement than if you have a newer home,” Murdoch said. “There’s more flexibility on an older home.”

Protecting heritage homes, while allowing for changes within those homes was a major instigator of the bylaw review.

The district hopes to hold an information session to present the report, with case examples in person, then come back to committee for further council discussion with a hope for spring implementation.

“It’s good to go back, the next stage after that is to go to bylaw,” Murdoch said. “The discussion we need to have as a community are (about) people’s desires to maintain heritage homes and (making sure) that is being reflected in this.”

See the full report online in at oakbay.ca in the Oct. 20 committee meeting agenda.

 

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