At the Feb. 13 council meeting a resolution was announced by Coun. Tara Ney. In essence, the resolution would like council to instruct staff to prepare a report to develop a process, bylaws and implementation of a secondary suite program.
The Official Community Plan however, states before going to a process for developing bylaws and implementation of a secondary suite program, council must: “In consultation with the public, develop criteria and guidelines with which to review proposals and evaluate their contextual fit.”
That is, provide the public with information.
In 2014, longtime councillor John Herbert had this condition added to the OCP, perhaps anticipating a fast-tracking of the legislation to legalize suites and exclude the public voice. The resolution intent is to allow resident input in the ‘how to legalize’, not if legalizing secondary suites is a good densification idea for Oak Bay.
Councellor Ney has made it known she favours legalizing suites however, she may not realize many facts have not been provided to the public.
For example: Suite enforcement is complex and costly. Few illegal suites are registered after legalization and the numbers increase. There could be major liabilities for the municipality. Councils are forced to choose between illegal suite businesses or safety.
This is by far the most important neighbourhood densification decision this, or perhaps any council has made to date. The OCP resident survey found the results on legalizing suites was inconclusive. Every community that has legalized suites, is now struggling with how to deal with the inherent problems and illegal suite growth. This is all the more reason to first provide transparency, information and resident collaboration in the legalization decision before moving forward to done-deal resolutions.
Counc. Ney’s resolution is scheduled to come to council on Feb. 26 at 7 p.m.