Oak Bay Council approved the receipt of a staff report last night that sets out an anticipated timeline for undertaking the process of implementing secondary suites.
“The staff report helps to settle many unanswered questions that have been circulating re: direction, timing, and plan of secondary suite programming in Oak Bay. Receipt of the staff report signals council is moving forward to implement secondary suites in Oak Bay,” said Coun. Tara Ney, who presented the motion that led to the report.
At the March 12 council meeting, Ney’s motion, approved by council, directed staff to prepare a report that outlines a project work plan, including timelines, next steps, and lead staff, with the stated goals of creating a public engagement plan to develop and implement policy, regulations, and bylaws for secondary suites in Oak Bay.
The report presented last night estimates the process to establish policy and develop bylaws for secondary suites will take approximately 13 months to complete and will involve a series of phases. The phases would include public engagement, and consider factors like floor area, parking, occupancy, inspection, enforcement, and potential for licensing.
“We don’t have to reinvent the wheel—there are many successful secondary suite bylaws out there. But we need a bylaw that fits Oak Bay so we must listen to issues that concern the community like parking and cost-neutral programming, and tailor the program to address those concerns,” said Ney.
The staff report says a series of opportunities would be provided to involve the community in the secondary suite review. The specifics of the public meetings would be determined through setting the public engagement strategy, which the report shows as happening in the first three months of the process. Also to be discussed in the first three months is the terms of reference.
“With the timeline confirmed that consultation won’t start until after the October election, the terms of reference, likely to be discussed in July, will be critical,” said Coun. Kevin Murdoch. “The current wording prevents the option of regulating secondary suites as part of a planned continuum of housing types. It effectively restricts staff and budget for the next 1.5 years. I hope Council recognizes this and will alter direction to allow a more inclusive “Terms of Reference” when it comes up for debate. I believe we need to move away from the ad-hoc approach to housing development seen the last few years, and regulate suites as part of a broader community development plan.”
A proposed breakdown of the process is in the report as follows:
The Building and Planning Department would lead the process, with a consultant being used for certain parts of the project. $60,000 is already in the budget and earmarked for this process. The Advisory Planning Commission will also play a key role by representing business, heritage, housing, and architectural interests, according to the report.
Staff will commence preliminary work in July 2018 and begin to engage the community in the fall of 2018, says Ney.
The next council meeting is April 9 at 7 p.m.. Estimates committee meetings are set for April 4 and 11 at 5:30 p.m. at municipal hall. For more information, check out the municipal website at www.oakbay.ca.
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