Regulatory issues key in suites discussion

In the question of legally sanctioning secondary suites for Oak Bay, it seems fractious to oppose the harvesting of potentially suitable, unused space for financially supplementing an owner’s ability to partially relieve economic stresses.

There is an embedded issue, however, and the question now mutates into one of regulatory frameworks that anticipate undesirable policy consequences.

Will policy-makers be able to distinguish between persons for whom rental revenue merely supplements an income that has other major components, from persons whose major source of income will be rental monies? If this distinction cannot be made, and attention is not given to the scale of permissions granted, then there is a risk of a blanket enabling of de facto duplex and commercial zoning, as has happened in parts of Vancouver.

Given the buccaneering traditions of our glorious province, off-shore money and salivating developers will inexorably move in, as they did into Vancouver, especially in the 1980s and onwards, driving the current price of that city’s chicken coops over the $1-million mark. We need not speak only of new trans-national money, since the sale of one rental house in Vancouver will buy two here.

If attention is not given to the downstream effects of blithely enabling secondary suites without regulation, then let us say farewell to affordable housing. Please welcome pizza plates, needles and condoms on our lawns.

Paul F. Thomas

Oak Bay