The new Official Community Plan (OCP) draft reads like a developer’s wish list with all the expansion propaganda clichés included.
Given council’s reckless densification proposals, they need to explain how they think they will protect existing residents’ privacy, views and sunlight from these over-developments. They must also explain how their excessive densification plans will maintain Oak Bay’s character. I don’t believe residents understand exactly what zoning policies of this magnitude will mean, what the real impacts will be, and how this will affect everyone.
This OCP development document will open the floodgates to ad hoc, unplanned development and there will be no way to control it – or our growth as a community. The one per cent annual growth figure is particularly deceitful and deliberately misleading. How, for instance, would you restrict the number of applications for duplexes or laneway housing? How would you limit the number of large houses being divided into apartments? Would council tell some owners they can develop and exclude others? The same negative impacts on neighbours by allowing monster houses will occur – only in much larger proportions.
Additionally, no more amenities will be provided to serve the new population – instead new and existing residents will pay increased user fees to contain use of the existing facilities. As we know, basement suites do not pay their way and there is no way, given Oak Bay’s budget and staffing limits, to enforce regulation. If there were, every municipality would do so. Throw in the illegal laneway housing, triplexes, 300 square foot units, etc. and taxes will have to be raised accordingly.
Council’s next step will be to hurriedly change our zoning bylaw to reflect these OCP extensive densification objectives – opening Oak Bay up to rapid marketing of inappropriate, unwanted change. These development initiatives will significantly increase traffic, parked cars, commuters, illegal suites and other structures, noise, service cuts and also substantially increase taxes. All other communities that have introduced these OCP development objectives have experienced these impacts. It has been proven time and time again this type of densification does not lead to prosperity, instead it increases municipal budgets and lowers living standards.