Enforcing suites creates unlevel playing field

Re: Secondary suites opponents rally (News, March 18)

The flyer delivered to Oak Bay residents explains many of the reasons for not wanting to legalize suites. The test is: why does Oak Bay have this prohibition in the first place and, would there be a protest if council – three of whom are promoting legalization – tried to change the official community plan to allow this. The answer is, of course, yes.

Suites don’t automatically become legal when legislation allows them to do so. This is the case in most municipalities – my information is not one application has been received to register a suite in the pilot zone approved in North Saanich last year.

If you legalize suites, you open up the possibility and opportunity for expansion and abuse. It is a no-win situation, in some ways, for everyone, but you have to decide in favour of those who will lose and pay the most: the average homeowner. They seem to have been forgotten in the develop-at-all-cost phase we are now in.

For the most part, those currently operating basement suites are not harassed, otherwise there wouldn’t be so many illegal suites. And few complaints are received by Oak Bay municipality.

The present system provides a level of protection for everyone. Legalization could change this, because at some point disproportionate taxation – someone is paying for services for suite tenants – catches up to municipalities. The result is that firm (very expensive) measures have to be imposed to force suite registration and upgrading.

Currently no one is concerned about a granny, nanny or student or mortgage helper, but everyone isn’t in this situation, so leave well enough alone.

The alternative is far worse. One need not venture far to see the results of changing zoning bylaws to allow suite legalization. Nothing changes but the removal of protections for most residents, and inevitably illegal suites increase. Who suffers then? The average Joe law-abiding, hard-working, tax-paying citizen.

Anthony Mears

Oak Bay