I am in receipt of a leaflet from the not-so-friendly Friends of Oak Bay Neighbourhoods.
Alarmist in nature and tone, it does little to move the objective assessment and necessary thoughtful deliberation forward. The FOBN website, however, is useful and easy to navigate.
Considering the estimated existence of 750 secondary suites, I would suggest Oak Bay is shouting support of secondary suites as a means to reduce urban sprawl, gain mortgage assistance, provide security of property for travellers, secure aid, companionship and/or income supplements for our seniors, and provide a social stability that comes from the kind of housing that meets our needs at various stages of our lives.
For its final report, released June 14, 2010, the Oak Bay secondary suites review committee solicited input from 51 other municipalities, 86 per cent of which allow secondary suites. One significant comment from the Victoria-Gonzales Bay Project regarding legalizing secondary suites reported no changes to the neighbourhood, since the suites were generally already there and in use.
One of several statements made by FOBN that requires scrutiny asserts that “secondary suite legalization equates to OCP (Official Community Plan) violation.” Interestingly, the existing illegal suites are already violating the OCP.
Unfortunate comments from current property owners are part of the committee’s report and indicate that renters of these suites are likely to be transient, unsavoury types who are more likely to commit crimes … stran-gers in our midst who are just not good citizens. Really?
Census Canada reports that 28 per cent of current Oak Bay residents are renters. How about a day on the Avenue trying to identify those threats to our “serene” and “special” place?
With acknowledgment to Comm. Oliver Hazard Perry from the War of 1812 and Pogo creator Walt Kelly, we have met the enemy, and he is us!