Construction in Oak Bay is nearly all focused on rebuilding new single-family homes and without secondary suites. (Black Press Media File Photo)

Construction in Oak Bay is nearly all focused on rebuilding new single-family homes and without secondary suites. (Black Press Media File Photo)

Oak Bay nears regulation of secondary suites

Preliminary report hints there’s no preferred option

Oak Bay council had its first look into the much anticipated secondary suites study.

It’s a preliminary look, as presented by consulting firm Urban Systems on Monday (Jan. 11) night, with a broad set of options that will require trimming.

A draft of the suggested regulations and potential bylaw changes should be in front of council by March.

The report is part of the council strategy to address whether it should legalize, permit, or promote secondary suites while recognizing Oak Bay is in short supply of rental units compared to the rest of Greater Victoria. Secondary suites are still not allowed under Oak Bay’s zoning bylaw.

READ ALSO: Housing Needs study shows Oak Bay’s dwindling population is rapidly aging

The 2019 Housing Needs report noted the number of rental units in Oak Bay decreased from 2,090 in 2006 to 1,830 in 2016. It showed that between 2016 and 2018, 133 households were built, though only nine were in addition to the housing stock. The majority replaced previously demolished households.

The secondary suites study is seen as one of the easier ways to increase the housing stock, and 78 per cent of Oak Bay residents supported that they be permitted and regulated in 2014 community consultation.

Urban Systems’ research shows there is no preferred method to regulation. The report outlines a variety of options around legalizing suites, making them non-legal conforming, how to include them in the building code and how to enforce them – or not enforce them. And yet, the often go unregistered or accounted for.

“Chilliwack has a non-enforcement role [wherein] if you register the suite, it is logged in existence and bylaws not to be enforced,” said Urban Systems’ senior planner Dan Huang, about Chilliwack’s non-enforcement incentive program.

It’s on the extreme end of strategies and exemplifies the limited options around regulating secondary suites, no matter how simple or complex the policy becomes.

READ ALSO: Supportive, low-income housing doesn’t hurt nearby property values in B.C., study says

Oak Bay is estimated to have between 500 and 750 “unregulated” secondary suites and the goal, as outlined in the Housing Needs report, is to add 290 household bedrooms in the next five years. This is to help Oak Bay keep pace with the region’s overall growth.

One question Coun. Tara Ney had was about the size of the suites. The B.C. Building Code removed previous constraints on the size of a secondary suite. It is now at the discretion of each municipality.

The building code used to have a max of 40 per cent of the gross floor area of the house up to a maximum of 90 square-metres for a suite, Huang noted.

“[Maximums] is something we should consider,” Huang said. “If you’re silent, then somebody could come in and make it as large a secondary suite as possible.”

Another option is to use a percentage maximum with a ceiling such as 150 square metres (1,600 sq. ft.).

“It’s large but many houses in Oak Bay are quite large, up to 10,000 sq. ft,” Huang added.

With the report in hand Oak Bay can now move forward with community consultation.

The consultation is “to tease out from the community what they like about the scenarios and the challenges, rather than a vote on options,” Huang noted, “from least restrictive to most restrictive.”

READ MORE: Housing Needs report highlights need for diverse, affordable housing in Saanich

reporter@oakbaynews.com


 

Do you have a story tip? Email: vnc.editorial@blackpress.ca.

Follow us on Twitter and Instagram, and like us on Facebook.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Robert Schram, here seen in January 2016, died Saturday, according to a friend. (Black Press Media file photo)
Sidney, Saanich Peninsula mourn the death of Mr. Beads

Bead artist Robert Schram was a familiar, well-loved figure in Sidney and beyond

Cathy Armstrong, executive director of the Land Conservancy, Paul Nursey CEO of Destination Greater Victoria and Saanich Coun. Susan Brice helped to kick off the annual Greater Victoria Flower Count at Abkhazi Garden Monday. This year, the flower count is less about rubbing the region’s weather in the rest of Canada’ faces, and more about extending a bouquet of compassion and love. (Nina Grossman/News Staff)
2021 Greater Victoria Flower Count sows seeds of compassion

Friendly flower count competition runs from March 3 to 10

Oak Bay police seized a fake police badge marked ‘Special Police’ from the car of a driver who rolled through the stop sign at the intersection of King George Terrace and Beach Drive on Saturday. (Black Press Media file photo)
Oak Bay Police seize fake police badge at traffic stop

Underage public drinking, face-to-face scams keep police busy

BC Housing ensures that by March 31, shelter will be available to all people living outside. (Black Press Media file photo)
All unhoused Victoria residents will be offered shelter by March 31, says BC Housing

BC Housing working to secure shelter locations in coming weeks

Paul Lewis is the Goldstream Gazette’s 2021 Local Hero as Arts Advocate of the Year. (Don Denton/Black Press Media)
West Shore driftwood sculptor inspired by Esquimalt Lagoon

Paul Lewis is the 2021 Arts Advocate of the Year

Langley resident Carrie MacKay shared a video showing how stairs are a challenge after spending weeks in hospital battling COVID-19 (Special to Langley Advance Times)
VIDEO: Stairs a challenge for B.C. woman who chronicled COVID-19 battle

‘I can now walk for six (to) 10 minutes a day’

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry updates B.C.’s coronavirus situation, May 8, 2020. (B.C. government photo)
B.C.’s weekend COVID-19 cases: 532 Saturday, 508 Sunday, 438 Monday

Fraser Health still has most, eight more coronavirus deaths

B.C. Attorney General David Eby speaks in the legislature, Dec. 7, 2020. Eby was given responsibility for housing after the October 2020 provincial election. (Hansard TV)
B.C. extends COVID-19 rent freeze again, to the end of 2021

‘Renoviction’ rules tightened, rent capped to inflation in 2022

Face mask hangs from a rear-view mirror. (Black Press image)
B.C. CDC unveils guide on how to carpool during the pandemic

Wearing masks, keeping windows open key to slowing the spread of COVID-19

Churches, including Langley’s Riverside Calvary Church, are challenging the regulations barring them from holding in-person worship services during COVID-19. (Langley Advance Times file)
Det. Sgt. Jim Callender. (Hamilton Police Service screenshot)
B.C. man dead, woman seriously injured after shooting in Hamilton, Ont.

The man was in the process of moving to the greater Toronto area, police say

Police have identified the vehicle involved in the Feb. 14 hit-and-run in Chemainus and are continuing to investigate. (Black Press Media files)
Police seize and identify suspect vehicle in hit-and-run

Investigation into death expected to be lengthy and involved

(Black Press file photo)
Child in critical condition, homicide investigators probe incident near Agassiz

The child was transported to hospital but is not expected to survive

Sewage plant in Lower Mainland, operated by Metro Vancouver. (Metro Vancouver screenshot)
‘Poop tracker’ launches as researchers test Lower Mainland sewage water for COVID-19

‘Studying the virus in wastewater allows researchers to look at an entire population…’

Most Read