Letters to the Editor Feb 16

Questions remain

after suites meeting

The vast majority of people attending a packed council meeting Feb. 7 left feeling shocked and frustrated over the result.

People were there to speak against legalizing secondary suites in Oak Bay. Some points made were:

1. How are our already aging and overloaded sewer and storm drains going to handle the extra burden given Oak Bay’s history with  flooding?

2. How many additional staff will be needed to enforce this program? Can we afford this?

3. What will the impact be on schools, traffic, police, fire, recreation centres, parks, etc. And at what cost?

4. The province estimates there are 150,000 illegal suites in B.C. Few illegal suites are ever registered in communities after legalization, so where will that lost tax revenue come from? Is it that fair suite owners pocket the money and not pay their share of taxes?

5. Changing from single-family to a multi-family community has serious consequences.

6. This proposal will result in a significant change to our community. Is council circumventing the required processes associated with changing the zoning bylaw and the Official Community Plan?

No one who spoke at the meeting was in favour of our community going in this direction. Yet a proposal was approved to spend $10,000 to hire a “facilitation firm” to set up a forum to educate the public about this issue in early April.

The majority of those attending were alarmed at the cost. Some council members stated repeatedly that $10,000 would accomplish nothing, and that the cost to do a proper analysis would be much higher. Should municipal money be used in this way?

An amendment to the proposal, that Oak Bay residents meet with council at the Monterey Centre to discuss this issue, was rejected. The initial motion passed. Three councillors voted against and three voted to accept and the Mayor voted to approve the proposal. The public’s views were ignored.

My concern is there appears to be a hidden agenda and a fast-track process to legalize suites in Oak Bay against the public’s wishes. What are needed are open public forums and a referendum on this issue at the fall municipal election.

Significantly, after repeated requests from the audience at the meeting, council was unable to provide a clear answer to the fundamental question: Why are we doing this?

Mary Douglas

Oak Bay

Suites issue shouldn’t

be taken lightly

Re: Seniors rail against O.B. suites process (News, Feb. 11)

The issue of secondary suites is a complex and sophisticated one, with a history and context that is gradually being brought to the attention of Oak Bay residents as the result of reports on initiatives currently being made by Oak Bay council.

At present, it would be fair to say that only a small number of residents have more than a passing acquaintance with the issues involved, and only a few know enough to be seized of the matter.

On Feb. 7, approximately a dozen residents familiar with the manner in which the issue has developed over the years made interventions to council.

Mostly, they voiced their concerns about the negative consequences of legalizing extant and future secondary suites in Oak Bay.

A tabloid headline such as that which appeared over this article did not set the stage for what should have been an unspun, accurate account of the proceedings. What the intervenors said was much more important than the banner innuendo about their demographic.

Just why they were prompted to intervene was an even more important aspect of the story, and it was virtually neglected.

While my own opinion tends to be congruent with the thrust of the intervenors last Monday, I would not wish to see the comments in subsequent meetings, of people who may endorse a legalization path reported in such an airily dismissive fashion.

W.J. Anderson

Oak Bay

Think clearly

before voting on HST

Premier Gordon Campbell clearly stated that his first reason for imposing the HST was the receipt of $1.6 billion in transition money.

The transition money shouldn’t have been his chief concern.

The return of that money shouldn’t be in the forefront of our decisions about the merits and otherwise of the HST.

E. Kaller

Saanich

Culling wildlife

a poor option

Re: Extreme measures needed to control urban wildlife (Letters, Feb. 11)

The reader who insists on eradicating wildlife is not only enamoured with his written word but also wrong in some aspects.

First of all, the university is not paying anyone to relocate the rabbits, as is well-known and publicly stated. They paid to have rabbits trapped and given to rescuers. If the university had the rabbits euthanized – some were – then there would have been a higher cost.

As to the university’s budget, I do not know where he gets his erroneous information. The university is hardly lacking funds and has just spent more than $40 million for seismic upgrades, as an example.

Diseased vermin – rabbits? Again, more university propaganda.

Rabbit diseases are rarely transmitted to humans and of the 800-plus rabbits relocated to sanctuaries only a very few were put down. Those that were, were due to physical damage, probably inflicted by vehicles or students.

As far as culling wildlife, perhaps it should be the other way around. It is we humans who are screwing up the world, not the animals.

William Jesse

Oak Bay