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Oak Bay residents sound off on Clive development

Feelings on rental apartment renovation are divided

There is an Oak Bay community plan which should be followed.

Granting variances only encourages spot development. This council, for the most part, is ignoring the residents of the area and pursuing what it thinks is best.

Coun. Cairine Green’s change of vote  from no to yes after listening  to young people at her son’s wedding express a desire to “afford” to live in Oak Bay makes a mockery of the process.

Ian Baird

Oak Bay

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In response to Coun. Cairine Green’s comment as to why she changed her vote regarding the Clive project, I can only add that I am certain there are many young people who would want to live in Oak Bay.

There are many people who would love to live in Victoria. I am not a young person and I would love to live in the Uplands but can’t. Is that any reason to agree to a development project which obviously bothers many people?

George Barrows

Oak Bay

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The Oak Bay News has asked readers what they think about the Clive development proposal. Having attended all council meetings and some developer meetings on the subject and, being very experienced with working with many municipal councils, here’s what I think:

Firstly, although your Sept. 13, article (Residents ruffled over Clive proposal) provides some insight and viewpoints expressed by councillors opposed to the proposal – it does not tell the whole story.

There are developments that are appropriate and there are those that are inappropriate. This development falls into the inappropriate category by definition.

This has been pointed out now several times in staff reports that have called for modifications. The developer has said this is not possible given the profit margins (economics) and therefore has made little change from the outset.

The requested density and variances do not comply with Oak Bay zoning and parking bylaws or the Official Community Plan.

Council seems not to understand their role in approving variances. Bylaws are set based on what the community wants by way of density, liveability and fairness to neighbours. Therefore council must use its discretion to approve minor adjustments, if necessary, not approve major discrepancies and throw out all the legislation and guidelines. These facts have been pointed out by council members opposed to the development in its present form.

Council has asked the local community to “work it out” with the developer. Given the impasse, this in effect means council wants the community to make all the concessions and accept the many resulting problems the overbuilding will cause.

These problems are not speculative but have been clearly explained to them by the residents. Additionally, the amount of blasting has not been disclosed and there are many buildings in close proximity.

Unfortunately, these days, council makes decisions that put more and more building on less and less land or, allow certain kinds of development in inappropriate locations. This only leads to attempts to deal with the resultant impacts after the fact and in many cases the problems are insoluble.

Anthony Mears

Oak Bay

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Congratulations to Oak Bay council on moving this thoughtful and well planned project to Oak Bay’s advisory design panel for consultation.

Tom and Jill Croft

Oak Bay

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The letter in Wednesday’s Oak Bay News (It’s time to stop the ‘uglification’ of Oak Bay village) demonizing development in Oak Bay is about one individual’s personal taste and is not supported by facts.

The proposed Clive building is three storeys not four. It features more glass and wood than the old building and is clearly not “wall-to-wall concrete.”

The writer needs to provide facts on wildlife and vegetation destruction, increased pollution etc. Increased density should actually decrease pollution; people walking to amenities means less road traffic.

The building sits on solid rock, not in a forest. Wildlife is not evident on or near this property.

If the letter-writer had his way there would be no Ottavio’s or Winchester Gallery, there would be no Penny Farthing, there would be no Athlone court; there wouldn’t be a seniors’  care home at Elgin Road and Oak Bay Ave. These developments, all of them welcome in my mind, have evolved over the 30 years I have been living in the neighbourhood.

I look forward to a new Clive building, a place where my elderly parents could rent an apartment and walk to everything they need. A building I, too, will likely look forward to living in when the burden of home ownership and driving become too much.

Oak Bay suffers a shortage of modern, accessible rental units for those of us who wish sell our homes and vehicles and remain in the community. The Clive proposal is the first proposal in decades to address this shortage.

Ed Lien

Oak Bay

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This month the Oak Bay council will return to the question of whether or not to approve the Clive project.

It is an appropriate time therefore to revisit this topic in the pages of the Oak Bay News where, in July and August, a great deal of space was devoted to objections to the proposed development. Unfortunately, several writers of letters to the Editor, and persons interviewed by the News have, in my opinion, strayed from an objective and correct analysis of the project.

One writer claims, for example, “the Clive development will displace eight affordable housing units with just over twice that number but with significantly increased rents.”  In fact, rents at the Clive are now, and always have been market rate rents.  That the future rents will be higher will be a reflection of the value of the future apartments on the market exactly as the current rents are determined by market value.

Natalie North reported in the News that a group of residents claimed, “a two storey, eight unit building [is being replaced] with a three storey, 19-unit, building” implying that the proposed building will be much higher than the existing one. In fact, the height of the new building will be the same as the existing building as the additional storey is achieved by bringing the first floor of the building down to street level and the top (third ) floor will not increase the height of the existing building.

I climb 21 steps from the Oak Bay Avenue sidewalk to enter the building and a further 16 stairs inside to reach my door.  At the same meeting with objectors Ms. North reports the group being, “not opposed to a higher-density, new building.”  However, unless there are to be apartments below ground level, the only way to increase density without a much taller building is to reduce the size of the living space for each apartment. Do Clive Drive residents think micro-suites are a solution to Oak Bay’s needs for rental accommodation? Ample space for parking cars trumps adequate space for living in the eyes of the objectors.

Objectors to the development also claim that the proposed development contravenes the current Oak Bay community plan and further, no development of the Clive site ought to be considered prior to the adoption of a new community plan in 2014.  In fact, the proposed development is fully congruent with the goals of the existing plan which include increasing the number of rental housing units, promoting access to and greater use of public transit, encouraging pedestrian activity and bicycle use and strengthening the economy and vitality of the village.

The Clive Drive residents seem to think the 2014 community plan will be less progressive than the 1996 plan with regard to housing, transit and density.

Concerns about the “bulk” of the building also seem to be exaggerated.

The proposed building, in my opinion, will not be out of proportion to other buildings on the Avenue and the streetscape is, enhanced by the wider sidewalk, removal of overhead cables, and removal of the street level concrete bunker like walls of the current site.

The provision of parking spaces has been a major concern for the objectors. Just as the NRA thinks hand-guns are not a problem in the U.S. and more are needed in the hands of citizens, Clive Drive residents think adding more parking spaces are a solution to traffic difficulties they experience living in Oak Bay.

The objectors’ most recent letters to the News state that they are not “against change.” Unfortunately their understanding of change differs greatly from mine.

Change from their perspective appears to be similar to choosing to replace a Chevrolet with a Toyota, where I think the changes Oak Bay council needs to consider are more similar to changing from the use of automobiles to the use of public transit. An apartment building that requires its residents not to own an automobile is, in my opinion, a greater benefit to Oak Bay than reducing the floor space of apartments while making space available for tenants to park cars.

Many requests to change set-back and zoning by-law requirements are considered by council each month.

A “one-size fits all” planning permit policy for new construction clearly does not work.  Consideration of the physical and social characteristics of specific sites helps to make our community more liveable, not less, and  does not automatically lead to indefensible precedents.

I trust the majority of Oak Bay council members will have the foresight to see approval of the Clive development proposal as a positive precedent for our community.

Adrian Blunt

Oak Bay