Residents group seeking input on planning issues

Oak Bay Watch concerned public's voice not being heard on development concerns

One group of residents plans to make itself heard while Oak Bay develops a planning committee. Citizen group Oak Bay Watch wants to have a voice in developing the terms of reference for the new committee that will work toward implementing the official community plan put in place last year.

“We’d like to be part of those terms of reference,” said Anthony Meers, Oak Bay Watch member.

Oak Bay Watch formed to protest the results of the 2007 bylaw zoning change that deals with house size as well as development proposals they view as inappropriate that were considered by council such as “excessive, unreasonable variances for the Clive” that saw significant opposition in the community, said member Mary Douglas.

It underscores why they want input on terms of reference for the planning committee that Oak Bay is set to implement.

“Our concern is very soon there’s going to be a new planning committee implementing the new community plan,” Meers said.

They plan to take a proactive approach, based on little trust in the process from their experience during developments that faced huge opposition, and take their ideas to council ahead of the matter. The terms are expected to be on the committee agenda Monday night.

“We don’t want that to happen again,” said Meers, adding it took too long to rectify, and even now there’s no guarantee the changes recommended to council will be implemented. If it is implemented, they say, the recent review of the bylaws that restrict floor area and lot coverage is an example of a successful process, and a good model.

“We’re not against development, we’re against inappropriate development,” Meers said.

“We want to change the meaning of consultation,” said fellow member Graham Ross.

The group hopes to introduce a comprehensive, collaborative process that would ensure residents have a stronger say in future zoning bylaw changes.

“Anyone in our community who wishes to have input can certainly do that by writing us or coming to speak to our committee of the whole. We’re more than happy to hear … from any group of individuals,” said Mayor Nils Jensen.

Oak Bay Watch points to a Jan. 27 B.C. Supreme Court decision where Justice Mark McEwan ordered new public hearings on two downtown Vancouver properties in a controversial deal between the City of Vancouver and a developer. A neighbourhood association questioned the city’s fairness to the public and McEwan quashed both the rezoning bylaws.

McEwan chastised the city for not providing enough documentation and information to the residents prior to public hearings.

“I don’t know how this changes the law, it’s another legal principle that has been in place… I’m not sure this is necessarily a decision that takes us in a new direction,” Jensen said. “There’s clearly an obligation on the municipality changing a zoning to present all the documents to anyone who’s interested and to have procedural fairness … We now, with our e-agendas, make all our development variance permit applications available online. So it’s much easier now for a person to get their information.

“We strive to be open and accommodating with respect to information.”

Oak Bay Watch also cites public hearings where a majority voiced opposition on a proposal council did not attempt to modify or call for further review. They see the court ruling as backing that push for councils to more scrupulously consider input from the public without a pre-ordained conclusion.

“A public hearing is not just an occasion for the public to blow off steam: it is a chance for perspectives to be heard that have not been heard as the city’s focus has narrowed during the project negotiations,” McEwan wrote. “Those perspectives, in turn, must be fairly and scrupulously considered and evaluated by council before making its final decision.”

 

cvanreeuwyk@oakbaynews.com

 

 

Just Posted

An example of the forest land in the Port Renfrew and Fairy Creek area of Vancouver Island is shown on May 11, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jen Osborne
Old-growth logging opponents launch hunger strike as arrests continue at Fairy Creek

Zain Haq says the hunger strikers will gather today at Burrard Street in downtown Vancouver

The City of Victoria is hoping to ring in the summer by celebrating local art and offering some distanced, live music to surprise people in parks, plazas and other public spaces. (Photo courtesy of the City of Victoria)
Live, pop-up concerts and local art being showcased in Victoria this summer

People will see surprise serenades at 16 locations throughout the summer

An example of the forest land in the Port Renfrew and Fairy Creek area of Vancouver Island is shown on May 11, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jen Osborne
Old-growth logging opponents launch hunger strike as arrests continue at Fairy Creek

Zain Haq says the hunger strikers will gather today at Burrard Street in downtown Vancouver

The 14th annual Oak Bay Young Exceptional Star (YES) awards June 3. (Christine van Reeuwyk/News Staff)
Oak Bay celebrates its Young Exceptional Stars with outdoor award ceremony

Nine young people recognized in 14th annual awards

Jada Benwell and Connor Larkey are the valedictorians of the 2021 graduating class at Parkland Secondary School. (Wolf Depner/News Staff)
Pandemic taught lessons in perseverance for North Saanich high schoolers

Parkland Secondary School to release 2021 grad ceremony video on June 25

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau participates in a plenary session at the G7 Summit in Carbis Bay, England on Friday June 11, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Canada donating 13M surplus COVID-19 vaccine doses to poor countries

Trudeau says the government will pay for 87 million shots to be distributed to poor countries

Premier John Horgan speaks as provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry, right, and health minister Adrian Dix look on during a press conference to update on the province’s fall pandemic preparedness plan during a press conference from the press theatre at Legislature in Victoria, Wednesday, Sept. 9, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
B.C. officials to provide details on Step 2 of COVID reopening plan Monday

Step 2 could allow for larger gatherings and a resumption of recreational travel

Indigenous Services Minister Marc Miller is seen during a news conference, Wednesday May 19, 2021 in Ottawa. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Indigenous child-welfare battle heads to court despite calls for Ottawa to drop cases

Feds are poised to argue against two Canadian Human Rights Tribunal rulings

The Great Ogopogo Bathtub Race has been held in Summerland as a fundraising event. Do you know which Canadian city introduced this sport? (Black Press file photo)
QUIZ: A summer’s day at the water

How much do you know about boats, lakes and water?

Two-year-old Ivy McLeod laughs while playing with Lucky the puppy outside their Chilliwack home on Thursday, June 10, 2021. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress)
VIDEO: B.C. family finds ‘perfect’ puppy with limb difference for 2-year-old Ivy

Ivy has special bond with Lucky the puppy who was also born with limb difference

A million-dollar ticket was sold to an individual in Vernon from the Lotto Max draw Friday, June 11, 2021. (Photo courtesy of BCLC)
Lottery ticket worth $1 million sold in Vernon

One lucky individual holds one of 20 tickets worth $1 million from Friday’s Lotto Max draw

“65 years, I’ve carried the stories in my mind and live it every day,” says Jack Kruger. (Athena Bonneau)
‘Maybe this time they will listen’: Survivor shares stories from B.C. residential school

Jack Kruger, living in Syilx territory, wasn’t surprised by news of 215 children’s remains found on the grounds of the former Kamloops Indian Residential School

A logging truck carries its load down the Elaho Valley near in Squamish, B.C. in this file photo. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chuck Stoody
Squamish Nation calls for old-growth logging moratorium in its territory

The nation says 44% of old-growth forests in its 6,900-square kilometre territory are protected while the rest remain at risk

Most Read