The swap of infill for secondary suites in the potential priorities list up for discussion this spring during budget talks, leaves the Advisory Planning Commission down one member.
Esther Paterson announced her intent to resign from the APC prior to the Feb. 7 meeting citing concerns over the commissions rationale of recommendations on infill housing, as presented to council Jan. 23.
“For me it was a difficult decision. I felt that I was certainly in an awkward position,” Paterson said.
In a trio of recommendations, the APC suggested council pursue regulation of secondary suites over infill and consider developing zoning appropriate for existing legal nonconforming duplexes while the APC initiates a housing strategy for Oak Bay, in a rationale provided by APC chair Pam Copley.
A regular council attendee, Paterson was at the Jan. 23 meeting where Copley delivered a rationale of the APC recommendation on infill housing.
“I listened to the presentation by the chair of the commission and I believed at that time as I confirmed later that that report and the recommendations were broader than anything that had been discussed at meetings. It didn’t accurately reflect the discussions at the commission,” Paterson said.
“When the recommendation included the commission take on guidance of the housing strategy, that’s a huge task, huge undertaking. That’s something everyone would have to sit down, take a look at and make a decision as a group. That’s what the process as a commission needs to do.”
Some APC members agreed they could have been notified of the rationale, but did not take Copley up on her offer during the Feb. 7 meeting, to resign as chair.
Paterson’s concern is council taking action on something the rest of commission hadn’t received.
“I understand that commissions exist by law. They have a higher standard than something like a committee. It is absolutely critical that they follow all of the law, follow proper procedures, protocol, and are impartial,” she said. “I did not want to be personally responsible for the opinions of other members of the commission, but I knew there was a gap in the information and that needed to be identified.”
Council agreed to put the recommendations on the priorities plan, discussed during estimates, or budget meetings, in the spring.
“I was quite surprised by Esther’s remarks and subsequent resignation and disappointed she and I didn’t have an opportunity to discuss in advance. A lot of things could be clarified,” Copley said. “Esther has been a hard-working and valued member of the APC and we’re going to miss her contribution for sure.”
Copley says it’s important the community to understand the function of the APC.
The citizens’ advisory group mandate is to advise council on matters of land use, community planning, proposed bylaws and specific permits.
“That includes advising on measures for progress towards achieving OCP (official community plan) goals and objectives, such as a housing strategy,” Copley said. “Our role and common goal is to provide council with the best collective advice and recommendations – in a spirit of cooperation and collaboration – on land use applications, planning and policy matters to enable the community to remain sustainable, resilient and livable.”
n The APC agreed to review the rationale presented by the chair and potentially discuss during its next regular meeting, set for March 7 at municipal hall.
n Visit oakbay.ca for meeting agendas of council, committee and commission meetings.