If our new Oak Bay Official Community Plan is to excite residents and stir imaginations, we need to look beyond sewers and water mains to a larger vision. The plan needs to put forward some conceptual “big ideas” for our future.
One suggestion is a scenic walking and cycling route through Oak Bay that would hug the shoreline as much as possible and follow Beach Drive as it runs north and south through the municipality. It could pass through Uplands Park, Willows Beach, Haynes Park, Victoria Golf Club, past Anderson Hill and end just beyond Trafalgar Park on King George Terrace. Perhaps new benches, beach access points where possible and a beautification that replaces brambles and overgrowth with more appropriate landscaping.
Included on the tour would be distance and site markers made up of formal landmarks and/or scenic viewpoints that the user would encounter along the way. Many of these sites already exist so my proposal would simply add others to further enhance the pedestrian and cyclist use of this scenic tour. The whole idea would be to encourage exercise, promote good health and make it a more appealing experience to live in and learn about Oak Bay.
To finance this project, we need new money. As a 30-year resident, I know Oak Bay is a wonderful place to live and raise a family, but it’s time we opened up our municipality to allow others the opportunity to live here, contribute to our community and enhance our tax base so that the municipality does not fall into decline. Oak Bay should expand its tax base by changing the way it allows residential development to be done in this municipality.
More density should be allowed in residential construction if it proves itself to be considerate of existing neighbourhoods and sensitive to community standards. There are many over-size residential properties in Oak Bay that could easily provide adequate building space for new homes but current bylaws and zoning limit the possibilities. More in-fill and shared access development should be allowed so that owners of RS4 lots adjacent to RS5 areas can subdivide and allow for new home construction. This represents the greatest source of future revenue available to Oak Bay.
A sensible and sensitive increase in residential construction in our municipality is overdue and the new Official Community Plan is a real opportunity to articulate this reality.
James A. Nicholl