Oak Bay Council included an initiative in the 2017 – 2018 Strategic Plan to undertake regulation of secondary suites in Oak Bay.
The process continued to be nudged forward this week as council approved the Terms of Reference and directed staff to initiate the process, one of the next steps being to select a consultant.
The Building and Planning Department will lead the secondary suite process, with a consultant used for specific parts of the project, such as helping with background documentation, public engagement, and providing overall recommendations that lead toward policy and bylaw amendments.
Council approved $60,000 for the consulting services in May 2018.
The decision to approve the Terms of Reference and move forward was not unanimous, with concern about wording, timing, and lack of overall housing strategy.
Coun. Kevin Murdoch noted that with the election fast approaching, they should wait and allow the new council to select the consultant.
“The terms of reference contained a proposed timeline placing the selection of the consultant, and the resulting commitment of $60,000, around October. Given the election on Oct. 20, I felt that spending substantial funds right before the new Mayor and Council would decide on their priorities was tying the future Council’s hands too much,” said Murdoch.
Murdoch, Coun. Hazel Braithwaite, and Coun. Eric Zhelka voted against the Terms of Reference and timeline.
“I still feel very strongly that we should be pursuing a complete housing strategy – not just a strategy around secondary suites, so I have trouble supporting the Terms of Reference as laid out as they include the expenditure of $60,000,” said Coun. Hazel Braithwaite. “Also, the timeline is really hard with the election coming up in October and only three more scheduled meetings before then.”
The motion passed 4 – 3 with Coun. Tara Ney, Coun. Tom Croft, Coun. Michelle Kirby, and Mayor Nils Jensen voting in favour, saying that council made the commitment to regulate secondary suites as one of their strategic priorities and that they should work to honour that commitment during their time on council.
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