Re: Housing tops OCP concerns (News Feb. 12)
I express my strong opposition to Oak Bay council’s proposal to promote secondary suites in its Community Plan.
A glaring flaw with the survey was that the question asking for opinions about suites said to assume that secondary suites such as parking, traffic, and neighbourhood character would be “addressed.” The word “addressed” is vague. It could have led some to say they favoured suites because they assumed that suite problems would be eliminated.
The world is not perfect. Regardless of efforts that council may make to compel compliance with bylaws, there will always be violations.
The opinion of only 10 per cent of Oak Bay residents who gave a vaguely qualified response to suites must not supercede experience and reason.
The unfortunate experience in other communities has shown us that densification will spoil our safe, quiet, and uncrowded neighbourhoods
The harm caused by densification is obvious in areas like Kitsilano, Fairfield, and the Western Communities. Anyone who has experienced those areas has seen, among other things, streets choked with traffic and curbs lined with parked cars.
If suites were allowed, we could see another car on the street for every adult living in that suite. A homeowner having to walk a block from her parked car to her home on a cold, windy, rainy, winter night because there is no other parking available on the street will become a reality in Oak Bay if suites are allowed.
In the past 65 years the population of Canada has tripled. The area of Oak Bay is only 10.5 square kilometres. We can anticipate a never-ending pressure from people wanting to live here because of the unique advantages of living in Oak Bay. It would be folly to think that Oak Bay can accommodate everyone who wants to live here, and at the same time protect its low density residential neighbourhoods.
A change to a bylaw should not be justified simply on a social policy objective. It should be based on evidence of a need.
Nothing in the proposed Community Plan shows evidence of a need for suites or proof that suites will improve Oak Bay’s quality of life.
Housing in Oak Bay is not broken. It doesn’t need to be fixed by suites.
Council must not make unnecessary changes to the bylaws based on the vaguely qualified opinions of a small minority of Oak Bay residents, especially when those changes will have harmful and irreversible consequences.
Oak Bay is the best place in Victoria to live, thanks in part to the vision and good governance of past councils that have maintained long standing bylaws prohibiting suites.
If council is sincere in its desire to respect and protect the aspects of Oak Bay that people love, it must reject the promotion of suites.