Every seat was filled and many resorted to standing or sitting on the floor for the final opportunity at input on the proposed development of Oak Bay Lodge.
About 200 people attended the meeting Tuesday at the Monterey recreation centre for the last chance to speak on the project before Oak Bay council is set to make a decision Wednesday (June 27).
Baptist Housing was hired by Vancouver Island Health Authority to redevelop the Oak Bay Lodge into a 320-bed facility for dementia care. The new building would be higher than allowed under zoning bylaws and would include fewer parking spaces than required for the size of the development.
The original request was to address the growing need for residential care beds for Greater Victoria’s aging population and to replace existing beds in existing facilities, including 247 beds at Oak Bay Lodge and 73 beds at Mt. Tolmie Hospital. The Oak Bay site is already zoned for residential care.
“We believe it is the best design for the site,” said Howard Johnson, CEO of Baptist Housing. “It is in the community interest to replace Oak Bay Lodge as proposed with the changes made.”
Despite Mayor Nils Jensen’s assertion there was no applause meter, residents used their hands to show support for speakers and three PowerPoint presentations opposed to the proposal.
“We have a massive redevelopment here and it’s being treated as an inconsequential bylaw variance,” said resident Paul Werner, one of three who made PowerPoint presentations opposed to the plan. Main concerns included the design and size; traffic and parking; and inconsistency with the community plan.
“This isn’t just one foot more on a house down the street,” Werner said. “This is a massive undertaking.”
While the balance between those leaned toward those opposed, those in favour gleaned support as well.
One resident of Wilmot Place noted that the community plan is due for a review.
“It was done 15 years ago and only updated seven years ago. An official community plan that far out of date is irrelevant today.”
More information about the Oak Bay Lodge redevelopment is available at the municipal hall, 2167 Oak Bay Ave.
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