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Infill housing ideas spur new Oak Bay neighbourhood association

Document considers all single-family zoned lots in the community
The Uplands gates on Beach Drive show where the neighbourhood begins adjacent to the park of the same name in Oak Bay. (Christine van Reeuwyk/News Staff)

While the infill housing strategy development underway in Oak Bay won’t be implemented by this council – with an election looming Oct. 15 – it has spurred a new community association.

Council discussed the strategy during its final meeting Sept. 26, looking at the results so far with a staff report that included information from several public input avenues.

There was concern voiced at the table around the staff recommendation to endorse the document Infill Housing Strategy: Options for Oak Bay, Guiding Principles and Key Directions. However, in the end, council did support that recommendation, understanding there will be more detailed information coming in the future.

The draft guiding principles that emerged from early public engagement, technical analysis and policy review are: to provide diverse housing options, support ease of implementation and cherish what the community loves.

READ ALSO: Uplands neighbourhood designated a national historic site

The key directions include: permitting townhouses, triplexes, duplexes, large lot subdivision, heritage conversion, and detached suites in all established neighbourhoods, provided they can meet the requirements of the zoning bylaw and design guidelines; consider encouraging infill housing in areas that are within close proximity to areas with frequent transit and/or commercial amenities; providing incentives for the creation of family-sized units (three-plus bedrooms) and purpose-built rentals; expanding the housing types being considered to include low-rise apartments, multiplexes, panhandle lots, secondary suites in infill housing, lot subdivision and house conversion, subject to further review; and possible amendments to the zoning and parking facilities bylaw, including removing the requirement for covered parking.

The report covers potential infill across the community, including places that drew attention such as Uplands.

Residents from that neighbourhood spoke at the meeting, indicating a new Uplands Neighbourhood Association developed as a result of residents there feeling blindsided by the information.

READ ALSO: Residents explore potential for Uplands as national historic site

Marilyn Palmer, speaking as president of the new association told council many residents of her neighbourhood were not aware of the consultation efforts and don’t feel the conclusions are reliable.

“We are not feeling at all confident the information that’s being brought forward is truly representative of the people in our neighbourhood,” she said.

Palmer asked that there be additional consultation with the neighbourhood.

“Every household in Oak Bay got notification. We did everything we could in our power to raise awareness,” Mayor Kevin Murdoch said, adding it’s not unusual for things to be missed. He asked staff if there would be avenues for more direct consultation as the process moves forward.

The next report expected at council will have housing types as well as outline the next consultation options.

As Murdoch noted to start the meeting, with a municipal election Oct. 15, the next council will make decisions.

Find the full 240-page report at The new council’s inaugural meeting is set for Nov. 7.

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Christine van Reeuwyk

About the Author: Christine van Reeuwyk

I'm dedicated to serving the community of Oak Bay as a senior journalist with the Greater Victoria news team.
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