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LETTER: No one has a right to own a home in Oak Bay

Embedded in the discussion on the “missing middle” of the housing situation is an assumption that I find odd – that anyone wishing to live in any particular municipality has an inherent right to do so, often based on having grown up there.

Really? Everyone in Oak Bay who is not of First Nations descent has forebears who left their continent, never mind their favourite municipality, to find a better job or home.

And no one is entitled to the lifestyle their parents have earned over many years. My family has been in Victoria since 1927, mostly in Oak Bay. As young parents in the early ‘80s, my husband and I found that we could not afford Victoria, never mind Oak Bay, couldn’t get the right jobs, and moved elsewhere. We saved and hoped for 30 years… but we made it back. Builds character (or so we tell ourselves).

Now our own sons are going through it too – both well-paid professionals with spouses ditto. They can’t afford to live where they grew up, and have moved to less convenient areas for the time being. If they really want to get back, they will make it a priority.

As for Oak Bay being more expensive tax-wise, well of course. No one has a problem with the nicest restaurant meal being more costly than McDonald’s, or with better quality anything costing more. Why would the supremely important place to live be different?

And as for attempting to accommodate everyone who wants to live here … think that out to its natural end. When would people stop wanting to come? When it’s no longer unique, safe, beautiful, or quiet – when it’s ruined. Do we really want to be the Mexico City of Vancouver Island? Look what’s happened to Vancouver; it was a very livable “big city” until just a few decades ago. No more.

This is not to downplay the horrid state of homeownership. But we are not alone with that one, and we have something going for us in Oak Bay: a wealth of small and mid-sized family houses on green lots, with trees. (Urban planners say that’s important.)

But what happens to those? Are we replacing those little ones on the big lots with smaller or mid-sized affordable multiple dwellings like town or row-houses? Nope. We are replacing them with out-of-character behemoths which are utterly unaffordable to the average family, and which raise the ante for the neighbourhood. Dumb.

We can provide mid-range housing, we have lots of scope, and lots of fine examples of it already. Put multi-family complexes in the appropriate places, and stop allowing the super-expensive high-end monsters in inappropriate ones.

Karen Nelson

Oak Bay

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