I am certain I am not the only one that has noticed the increase in single family homes with dumpster bins outside awaiting their final hour. With this comes the sickening realization that the mature gardens and stately trees that have stood decades, sometimes even centuries, will be destroyed along with the home.
It is extremely disheartening to witness our neighbourhood losing the lovely and unique character that drew us here in the first place.
As many Oak Bay residents realize, the recent municipal election was largely focused on the implementation of the Official Community Plan (OCP) and the floor area ratio (FAR) report.
Unbeknownst to the majority of Oak Bay residents, however, is the new OCP does not even mention the words “single family home” or “neighbourhoods” let alone the protection of them.
The FAR committee was formed to correct the zoning mistake made by Oak Bay council in 2007 that allowed monster houses on small lots. The FAR committee has now made strong recommendations to remedy this problem of over development. Although the council has had the FAR recommendation for some time they have not ratified it.
The original FAR committee in 2007 inadvertently changed the zoning bylaw formula from a ratio to a fixed formula. This was even against the advice of the chief administrative officer, who correctly predicted large intrusive houses on small lots would result.
They also removed in 2007 ancillary buildings like garages from the allowable square footage. This has allowed much more massing which has led to the decimation of our neighbourhoods’ trees, gardens and quaint houses here in Oak Bay.
Existing residents who built under the old bylaw pre-2007 had to conform to rules that allowed much lower density, and now with the current FAR find themselves negatively impacted by overly large houses which block their sunlight, views and destroy privacy.
After exhaustive community input and $300,000 worth of free consultation from the building industry, council could choose to dilute it or even take no action at all.
Oak Bay council is about to hold public sessions this week on the implementation of the FAR committee’s report.
It is extremely important as Oak Bay residents we attend these FAR report sessions open to the public, to show council our concern with the over development of our community. As residents we must endorse the implementation of the FAR committee’s report and demand that it be ratified immediately and not left to languish on the top shelf in city hall. Time is of the essence.