LETTER: Oak Bay’s land use application process needs updating

It became apparent watching council’s deliberations of March 14 regarding the 2326 Oak Bay Ave. (Quest) land-use application that our process is deeply flawed and unwieldy. This is true for staff, council, community, and likely developers. A checklist and a review of Oak Bay’s governance practices for land use applications are in order.

The planner’s report does not contain critical pieces: a traffic study; geotechnical study; analysis of services access (garbage, fire, traffic, vehicle entrance and exit); and environmental challenges during construction.

The result is councillors, without knowing these critical pieces, are asked to sign a blank cheque. “We will provide that information later,” is not acceptable. Would you sign a cheque without knowing what you are getting? Not bloody likely.

It is an Oak bylaw (not a provincial mandate) that the public has no right to communicate with the advisory design panel, advisory planning commission or council while they are deliberating a land-use application. This means that the first and only opportunity for the public to comment about a land-use application is at a public hearing if that occurs.

Why do Oak Bay councils continually regard staff, council and community as disconnected silos when processing land issues? This is a miscommunication, conflict-creating model. Why not create a task force consisting of a developer, planner, council, and community to produce a checklist, and an updated, transparent, made-in-Oak Bay land-use application process bylaw?

Imagine the gift – a checklist and an agreed-upon updated land application process – the present council could provide to the incoming council.

Mike Wilmut

Oak Bay