Talk of legalizing secondary suites stokes debate in Oak Bay

Motion to move ahead on secondary suites hits council next week

A motion to move forward on legalizing secondary suites in Oak Bay is being brought before council next week, and while the Official Community Plan (OCP) lists it as a priority that the majority of residents support, not everyone is happy about it.

Coun. Tara Ney’s resolution entitled, “Secondary Suite Implementation in Oak Bay” is scheduled to come to council on Feb. 26.

“The issue of secondary suites in Oak Bay has been lingering for over a decade. It’s at the top of the Council Strategic Priorities and with the affordability of housing in our region reaching crisis proportions, it’s time to have this conversation,” said Ney.

The motion asks to have staff prepare a report outlining a work plan, that includes timelines and a public engagement plan, to develop and implement policy, regulations, and bylaws for secondary suites in Oak Bay.

This is in line with the OCP’s action item to “develop a policy and regulatory framework to permit secondary suites as a way of providing affordable housing in the community.”

The Community Association of Oak Bay (CAOB) hosted a talk on housing affordability last week that was attended by approximately 80 community members and included discussion on secondary suites.

“Secondary suites did come up as an answer to offering diversity of housing and affordable housing needed in our community. There was general sentiment that there was support and acceptance,” said Kris Nichols, president of CAOB.

Many at the talk recognized that secondary suites already exist so turning back the clock does not make sense as they are obviously filling a need, Nichols said.

“To take that option away would ultimately be removing possibly 100s of units of affordable housing not only for those living in them, but for those that have them in their homes,” said Nichols. “There was support to legitimize those existing suites.”

Other residents however have spoken up to express concern about the “when” wording of the motion, saying that it should be “if” until there has been more public engagement on the issue, particularly around the difference in public support for already established secondary suites vs new or additional ones. While the OCP states that the majority of residents are in favour of regulating existing secondary suites, the Community Survey Report notes that the survey did not answer conclusively the question of whether or not the community supports new or additional suites in their neighbourhoods.

“This is by far the most important neighbourhood densification decision this, or perhaps any council has made to date,” said Oak Bay resident Anthony Mears.

Concerns around cost of suite enforcement, liabilities for the municipality, and safety are key reasons why Mears is asking the municipality to first provide transparency, information and resident collaboration in the legalization decision before “moving forward to Bylaws and Suite Program done-deal resolutions.”

“I know this project is important to our community, and as chair of the Oak Bay Engagement Task Force I anticipate that residents will be highly engaged with this process,” said Ney. “To ensure the secondary suite program is uniquely tailored to our community, we will consult extensively with residents (renters and homeowners) to learn of the issues and concerns.”

A program will then be designed looking at features like parking, suite size, owner occupier, exemptions, piloting, fees, enforcement, etc., Ney said.

“This will be a made-in-Oak Bay secondary suite program that will offer critical housing options, and, importantly, take home owners and renters out of the shadow of the law,” said Ney.


 

keri.coles@oakbaynews.com

Follow us on Instagram
Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

keri.coles@oakbaynews.com

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Unemployment surpasses historic high in Greater Victoria, tourism hit hard

Hospitality and tourism sectors hurting as pandemic continues

Victoria tattoo shops respond to sex assault allegations against male artists

Carne Tattoo and Painted Lotus Studios respond to allegations

Mayor not in favour of low barrier housing at Oak Bay Lodge

Process is already in place to determine future of Oak Bay Lodge

‘I love my animals very dearly,’ says man at centre of Saanich park allegations

Man accused of assault after being approached for allegedly mistreating his dog

Victoria seeks court order to enforce sheltering rules in Beacon Hill Park

People being asked to move out of environmentally sensitive areas of park

B.C. sees 25 new COVID-19 cases, community exposure tracked

One death, outbreaks remain in two long-term care facilities

Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers wanted list for the week of July 7

Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers is seeking the public’s help in locating the… Continue reading

POLL: Would you get a vaccine for COVID-19 when it is available?

With the number of positive COVID-19 tests skyrocketing across much of the… Continue reading

VIDEO: Alberta man rescues baby eagle believed to be drowning in East Kootenay lake

Brett Bacon was boating on a lake in Windermere when he spotted the baby eagle struggling in the water

Vancouver Island business ad unintentionally features OK gesture linked to white supremacy

Innocuous ‘OK’ gesture in cleaning franchise advertisement gets flak on social media for ‘supposedly’ promoting white supremacy

Comox Valley RCMP looking for missing woman

Ami Guthrie was last seen in Courtenay in early July

Conservationists raise concerns over state of care for grizzly cubs transferred to B.C. zoo

‘Let them be assessed now before their fate is sealed,’ urges B.C. conservationist Barb Murray

B.C.’s COVID-19 job recovery led by tourism, finance minister says

Okanagan a bright spot for in-province visitor economy

National Kitten Day aka the ‘purrfect’ day to foster a new friend

July 10 marks National Kitten Day, a special day to celebrate all things kittens

Most Read