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LETTER: Housing strategy survey has serious design flaw

The survey, which will have a significant influence on Oak Bay’s Infill Housing Strategy, has a poorly designed format and a biased question. It will be very difficult to draw meaningful, objective conclusions from the data.

Question 2 asks about the suitability of duplexes, triplexes, townhouses, detached suites (laneway houses, garden suites, cottages, carriage houses), heritage conversions, and large lot subdivisions in your neighbourhood. Then, in Question 5, you are asked what proposed zoning changes (reduce front and side yard setbacks, allow greater floor area ratios, and greater lot coverage) could be associated with building these housing types.

Clearly, Question 5 should be placed before Questions 2, 3, and 4 in the survey. Then the reader would know the possible relaxed zoning bylaws the housing types could be built in your neighbourhood, before they answer Questions 2, 3, and 4. The present survey ordering is a serious design flaw.

Question 7 asks whether to speed up rezoning applications. Option one is the current application process. In many cases, it is “a rezoning process with review by advisory committees and a public hearing before a bylaw can be considered by council.” According to the authors, this “could take 6-12 months.”

Option two is a development-like process with advisory committee review and council considerations but no hearing and no bylaw. It “would take 3-6 months” in one scenario and “would shorten to 2-4 months” in another.

The word could suggests timing uncertainty in an Option one rezoning application, acceptance or rejection. However, the word would in Option two implies timing certainty about a zoning application, acceptance or rejection. Even though the design guidelines associated with Option two have not yet been written. A clear example of a question biased toward choosing Option 2.

Mike Wilmut

Oak Bay

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