Letter: Infill argument doesn’t work

Tax implications, building standards must be addressed before infill

Re: Housing  alternatives needed, Oak Bay News, May 25

I am still trying to get my head around the letter writer’s opinions. The writer states infill is only “technically in violation of municipal bylaws.”

Firstly, I had no idea we get to choose which bylaws we want to follow. More importantly, there is no recognition of the lost tax revenue that likely accompanies many of these unreported garage and basement suites. Collectively, given the population numbers and applied to whole municipalities, it is not an insignificant amount.

Addressing the reference to the higher moral ground, packing people into unregulated garages and basements and having your neighbours pay for the municipal services and enforcement programs for your renters, even if they are family, is not ethical behaviour. This hurts many more families and seniors without infill, who pay the resulting higher taxes.

While I believe the majority of residents would agree more housing alternatives can be provided – this is not the issue.

The problem is with the development industry’s practices and the B.C. government’s building standards. The former builds to maximize profits and the latter allows building materials that are not durable to be used. Liberal municipal zoning allowances are also a big factor, as Oak Bay is currently finding out with the overbuilding, demolitions, tree and heritage loss.

So what’s the solution? Stand-alone townhomes with design standards, not crowded onto single-family lots, would be a start. Regulating and adequately taxing any infill unit would be another. The United Kingdom faced the same situation. It now applies a two-property tax system when an infill unit is added. It has a strict, broad definition of separate living quarters and allows tax relief and exemptions for single renters or relatives. Annual business licenses are required for infill and the safety and living standards are closely monitored.

This system protects renters, provides additional funding for municipal services, infrastructure and the crucial, expensive enforcement programs and removes the tax burden from the majority of residents who do not have infill.

Unfortunately Oak Bay council is still at the tax increase stage. Inevitably, to keep making ends meet, user fees and service reductions will follow. Sooner or later we will need to go to a much more rational, humanistic and balanced approach.

Let’s hope it’s before too much more damage is done to our community.

Anthony Mears

Oak Bay

 

 

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

Just Posted

Oak Bay Police are calling on a male described as elderly to come forward after having left the scene of a collision that injured a cyclist Saturday afternoon. (Black Press File Photo)
Police in Oak Bay seek elderly driver who left scene of collision with cyclist

Collision left cyclist with injuries to head and chest

Oak Bay High Grade 10 students Oliver Wakely and Alex Joiner with the new scoreboard to soon be installed on the grass turf. Fundraising from the Oak Bay Barbarians rugby alumni and Oak Bay Fire Fighters Charitable Foundation. (Travis Paterson/News Staff)
Oak Bay High alumni buy new scoreboard

Scoreboard to be installed on grass field

Steve Smith’s image of two sibling adolescent grizzly bears playfighting in the Chilko River in the B.C. Interior earned him best of show at the prestigious Lion’s Gate Celebration of Nature club competition for 2020-21. (Photo by Steve Smith)
Victoria Camera Club captures top spot in prestigious nature and wildlife competition

Saanich Peninsula photographers part of award-winning team

Downtown Victoria and the Inner Harbour are part of a corridor that also includes much of urban Saanich that is part of the Greater Victoria 2030 District, a sustainable buildings climate initiative announced recently. (Black Press Media file photo)
Ramping up energy efficiency in Greater Victoria buildings goal of new group

Greater Victoria 2030 District part of North American network of cities working to reduce emissions

Victoria Hospice staff Brianne Ohl, left, Angela Chalmers, right, and Sandi Ogloff, at back, show off their buttons that show a picture of them smiling. Staff has worked hard to maintain the connections with patients despite the barriers of PPE and rigid COVID-19 protocols. (Victoria Hospice Photo)
Hospice provides compassion in a time of COVID

Victoria Hospice 40th anniversary on pause during pandemic

Terrance Josephson of the Princeton Posse, at left, and Tyson Conroy of the Summerland Steam clash during a Junior B hockey game at the Summerland Arena in the early spring of 2020. (John Arendt - Summerland Review)
QUIZ: How much do you know about hockey?

Test your knowledge of Canada’s national winter sport

From the left: Midway RCMP Csts. Jonathan Stermscheg and Chris Hansen, Public Servant Leanne Mclaren and Cpl. Phil Peters. Pictured in the front are Mclaren’s dog, Lincoln and Peters’ dog, Angel. Photo courtesy of BC RCMP
B.C. Mounties commended for bringing firewood to elderly woman

Cpl. Phil Peters said he and detachment members acted after the woman’s husband went to hospital

Dr. Jerome Leis and Dr. Lynfa Stroud are pictured at Sunnybrook Hospital in Toronto on Thursday, January 21, 2021.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Frank Gunn
‘It wasn’t called COVID at the time:’ One year since Canada’s first COVID-19 case

The 56-year-old man was admitted to Toronto’s Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre

An Uber driver’s vehicle is seen after the company launched service, in Vancouver, Friday, Jan. 24, 2020. Several taxi companies have lost a court bid to run Uber and Lyft off the road in British Columbia. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
Taxi companies lose court bid to quash Uber, Lyft approvals in British Columbia

Uber said in a statement that the ruling of the justice is clear and speaks for itself

Nanaimo Regional General Hospital. (News Bulletin file photo)
COVID-19 outbreak declared at Nanaimo hospital

Two staff members and one patient have tested positive, all on the same floor

A long-term care worker receives the Pfizer vaccine at a clinic in Nanaimo earlier this month. (Island Health photo)
All Island seniors in long-term care will be vaccinated by the end of this weekend

Immunization of high-risk population will continue over the next two months

A 75-year-old aircraft has been languishing in a parking lot on the campus of the University of the Fraser Valley, but will soon be moved to the B.C. Aviation Museum. (Paul Henderson/ Chilliwack Progress)
Vintage military aircraft moving from Chilliwack to new home at B.C. Aviation Museum

The challenging move to Vancouver Island will be documented by Discovery Channel film crews

A video posted to social media by Chilliwack resident Rob Iezzi shows a teenager getting kicked in the face after being approached by three suspects on Friday, Jan. 22, 2021. (YouTube/Rob i)
VIDEO: Security cameras capture ‘just one more assault’ near B.C. high school

Third high-school related assault captured by Chilliwack resident’s cameras since beginning of 2021

FILE - In this Feb. 14, 2017, file photo, Oklahoma State Rep. Justin Humphrey prepares to speak at the State Capitol in Oklahoma City. A mythical, ape-like creature that has captured the imagination of adventurers for decades has now become the target of Rep. Justin Humphrey. Humphrey, a Republican House member has introduced a bill that would create a Bigfoot hunting season, He says issuing a state hunting license and tag could help boost tourism. (Steve Gooch/The Oklahoman via AP, File)
Oklahoma lawmaker proposes ‘Bigfoot’ hunting season

A Republican House member has introduced a bill that would create a Bigfoot hunting season

Most Read