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Off-street parking added to impending secondary suite policy for Oak Bay

Homeowners would choose between boarder, suite – not both
The latest iteration of Oak Bay’s secondary suites policy would see off-street parking required and either a suite or a boarder per lot. (Black Press Media file photo)

The latest iteration of Oak Bay’s secondary suites policy would see off-street parking required and either a suite or a boarder per lot – with some allowances.

Late last year council weighed in on a series of areas where staff needed direction.

Council decided at that time the program would address new and existing structures; suites be incorporated into the single family residential zone; there be no minimum or maximum lot size; owner occupancy be a requirement; enforcement be complaint-based; basic health and safety standards be met for existing homes using alternate compliance methods, full BC Building Code compliance required for new buildings and that Oak Bay use a registration program to track suites.

The issues of potential requirements for off-street parking and whether to allow both suites and boarders remained requiring more input. During the Jan. 10 meeting, council perused more information from staff, including data from comparison communities from Greater Victoria and the Lower Mainland.

RELATED: Oak Bay whittles down the how of impending secondary suites policy

Coun. Cairine Green made a motion – which ultimately failed – that Oak Bay require no additional off-street parking for secondary suites. She cited the overriding concern about loss of tree canopy and green space, sentiments similar to those expressed in November by the advisory planning committee.

“This will create another barrier for secondary suites if we require small lots to require another parking space,” she added.

Couns. Andrew Appleton and Tara Ney voiced similar sentiments, but were outvoted by Couns. Hazel Braithwaite, Eric Zhelka, Esther Paterson and Mayor Kevin Murdoch.

Braithwaite cited a survey showing parking as the highest priority for respondents.

“Our citizens are speaking to us very loudly when it comes to parking around secondary suites,” she said, adding it’s harder to give away than take back.

The four supported a motion to require one additional off street parking space for secondary suites and have staff come back with enforcement options to ease implementation. Green, Appleton and Ney opposed.

READ ALSO: Oak Bay resident uses notes to claim street parking

A similar split hit when Braithwaite made a motion to allow either a secondary suite or boarding use on a single parcel.

Appleton, Ney and Green opposed the either/or option. Green noted it could create a situation that doesn’t allow for a caregiver on site as well as a suite. That prompted an amendment to have municipal staff bring back options to ensure there are exemptions available for caregivers or other special circumstances.

Ney and Appleton opposed the amendment, with Appleton noting there should be no differentiation between people, for example a caregiver and a student. The amended motion to allow either a boarder or secondary suite passed with Appleton, Ney and Green opposed.

Oak Bay council generally meets Monday nights at 7 p.m. at municipal hall, 2167 Oak Bay Ave. Find meeting schedule, agenda and streaming information at

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Christine van Reeuwyk

About the Author: Christine van Reeuwyk

I'm dedicated to serving the community of Oak Bay as a senior journalist with the Greater Victoria news team.
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