Rev. Michele Slater told the Oak Bay News that the church’s consultation “was a fantastic process.” How does she know? At none of the sessions I (and my neighbours) attended, was she present – so she did not hear this first-hand. On the contrary, the process was seriously flawed.
She further stated that the scenarios presented to the neighbours ranged from 80 to 150 units. We were presented with four scenarios: “Curved”, a five-storey building, with 110-160 units and 88-97 parking stalls; “Block”, a five-storey building with 111-160 units and 88-98 parking stalls); “L-Shaped”, a four-storey building with 105-157 units, and 86-97 parking stalls; “Podium”, a four-storey building (single-storey of surface parking and three storeys with 102-130 residential units) and 77 parking stalls – the church does not consider this scenario viable. For each scenario, parking includes residential, church and guest parking.
What is being proposed is massive for this neighbourhood: one to two storeys higher than the other apartment building nearby, three times the number of units and far less parking; two to three storeys more than the existing 25-year old Threshold House (which they would tear down); and three to four storeys higher than the predominate single-detached dwellings on three sides of the church. This is an area noted for its traffic and lack of parking – the scenarios seriously exacerbate the problem.
As a resident of this neighbourhood for over 40 years, a former mayor and urban planner, I don’t think anything this big has ever been proposed for an Oak Bay residential neighbourhood. This development is being sold as providing affordable rental housing – the neighbourhood embraces this. The key issues are about scale height, density – fitting in. It turns out it is also about being accurate about what is being proposed.