Letter: Oak Bay needs to diversify housing, to meet new needs

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Discussions at two recent forums on affordable housing in Oak Bay highlighted the lack of housing choices available here.

We are a landlocked, mature residential community built out in at least two main phases – up to the 1930s and again in the post war period. Free-standing single family homes were the order of the day.

It is doubtful discussions about housing diversity took place back then or that urban planning for today’s world was on anyone’s mind.

Today our land is limited and expensive. We live in a global world where money moves freely to desirable communities such as ours, making the prospect of home-ownership in Oak Bay for today’s young people almost impossible. There are those who say that is O.K. – young people and families have to earn the right to live here.

Hogwash. We are not that precious or special.

We need young people and young families living here. We need to make it possible for them to do so. This means we need the housing options available in other communities.

We need regulations for secondary suites – those that already exist and for those that can be built into new homes. We need laneway houses and legal duplexes and yes, perhaps even triplexes, townhouses and comfortable, affordable housing for our seniors who want to stay in the community.

A vibrant thriving community is about people not just houses. Making greater housing options available will not ruin what we enjoy; not having choices will. We will become a wealthy enclave of older people and of ever-larger single family homes. Our homes, trees and gardens will continue to be demolished, replaced by homes even more unaffordable.

Bravo to mayor and council for getting on with updating our outdated zoning and bylaws and safeguarding our future.

Jan Mears

Oak Bay

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