Oak Bay council held many across the table meetings with development industry representatives during the Official Community Plan process. Council also funded a half-day workshop a few months ago with ‘development stakeholders’ about the introduction of infill development into Oak Bay.
I find it disturbing however, that in the last two council terms, council has not sat down with the community and provided any two way conversation in the form of town halls or any other open meetings. Many have been promised.
The community needs to have information on such major land use changes like infill densification, for example the ‘What, how, where and how many?’
It is reasonable for residents to request question-and-answer sessions, particularly in view of the repeated community consultation commitments council keeps alluding to, in reports and the media. Particularly now the majority of council (4-3 vote) have finally come clean with the first stage of their infill development agenda, basement suite, duplex and mega condo developments. It is noticeable council has taken all of the planned scheduling for adequate community input, eg. town hall meetings, surveys and impact information off the table.
At two recent sessions at the University of Victoria in late September 2016, council presented mainly show-and-tell infill designs. This backfired as almost all speakers voiced they had major concerns about council’s underlying infill densification agenda that omitted impact information. Could this have resulted in the council’s recent reset to eliminate any further public consultation? I am also sure council will wait until the last possible moment when they follow their usual, ‘let the public talk but we won’t listen’ format.
This just occurred at a committee of the whole meeting. A large number of residents showed up to voice their concerns along with several other council members, about an over-built condo development at Bowker and Cadboro Bay. After being made to wait several hours, residents were limited to three minutes each to voice their concerns. The development was fast tracked to a public meeting (a 4-3 block vote) for a final step approval.
It will be interesting to see if this Bowker/Cadboro Bay condo development public meeting will be another ‘not listening to the community’ and ‘we are sticking to our council majority densification agenda’, that has become the norm in recent years.
I do know we can expect development industry supporters from far and wide to show up in full force, hoping to achieve a greater development foothold in Oak Bay.