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LETTER: Clarification needed on secondary suite survey

Urban Systems’ secondary suite process needs a major correction.

Question 11 of the 2014 Official Community Plan survey asked: “Do you agree or disagree with the inclusion of the following housing types in existing single-family residential areas? Assume that key issues such as tree protection, parking, traffic, noise, and neighbourhood character will be addressed.” Given the assumption, 69 per cent agreed with regulated secondary suites in existing homes.

The May 2021 Urban Systems secondary community suites survey’s stated objective (page10) “is intended to identify the policies and regulations necessary for considering secondary suites as a housing form within the community.” However, this survey leaps beyond that intent to say secondary suites are being “considered.”

Further, the June 2021 Urban Systems secondary suites community survey summary (page 6) states: “The OCP policy directive was to explore ‘how’ secondary suites could be regulated in Oak Bay (without mentioning policies and regulations) rather than ‘if’ secondary suites should be permitted.”

Clearly, the consultant who designed the survey did not read or understand the OCP survey or even his own company’s stated objective. This is a serious breach of, if not complete disregard for, community trust.

This breach would have been corrected if council had more than one day to examine the questionnaire. Most councilors stated, off the record, they were very unhappy with what happened.

To correct this breach, after the document (set of suite policies and regulations) is ready for all but writing the associated necessary bylaws etc., there should be a community survey with one, two-part, question. Residents could answer: (a) I support suite legalization. The OCP key issues such as tree protection, parking, traffic, noise, and neighborhood character have been addressed. Or (b) I do not support suite legalization. The OCP key issues have not been addressed.

Mike Wilmut

Oak Bay