Letter: Meeting fails to explain the ‘why’ of infill

Community infill strategy meeting didn't explain why Oak Bay needs to pursue infill

Re: Infill housing strategy invited residents’ input, Oak Bay News, Sept. 2

I attended the Residential Infill Strategy meeting at UVic on Sept. 10. It became apparent to me after a while that the hired (at what cost to us taxpayers?) consultants were presenting solutions to a problem I did not know existed.

It was not explained just why we need an infill strategy in the first place.

The 2014 Oak Bay Community Plan “anticipates” an annual population growth of 0.5 per cent (~90 new residents per year). It is my understanding that our population has remained quite stable during the past few years – indeed Oak Bay’s population actually contracted at least once in the last 15 years as I understood from Mayor Nils Jensen’s meeting introduction.

If this understanding is correct, then why are we pursuing an infill strategy at all?

During the ensuing question period it became evident that the consultants’ glib presentation was received in much the same vein as was Hans Christian Andersen’s fairy tale The Emperor’s New Clothes, in that the presentation was seen as a sales pitch for accepting the need for infill without explaining why infill is needed, except perhaps to facilitate population growth and developer profit.

I strongly believe that the large majority of Oak Bay taxpayers do not wish our community to grow and therefore give rise to the problems which inevitably follow growth, such as loss of trees, excessive on-street parking, additional traffic noise and a general degradation of neighbourhoods.

I realize that the process is just beginning. This issue is too important to be left out of the hands of those who elected mayor and council, and before they proceed further down this expensive rabbit hole I suggest that the taxpayers be given the opportunity to give a thumbs up or down by way of a referendum.

Finally, the meeting venue at UVic was much too small. Why not use the new theatre in Oak Bay High for future meetings of this sort? I believe it can seat about 800 persons.

Steen Jessen

Oak Bay