By a slim 4-3 margin (Jensen, Croft, Kirby, Ney in favour with Zelka, Murdoch and Braithwaite opposed) Oak Bay council recently decided that the regulation of secondary suites was a priority.
A reason quoted was that “70 per cent of the Official Community Plan survey respondents supported regulating existing secondary suites.”
In the Strategies for Utilities and Services section, 76 per cent said a high priority was to replace water and sewer lines. More OCP respondents were concerned with infrastructure than suites.
In the recent community satisfaction survey, residents were asked what is the most important issue facing the community. Thirty-one per cent stated infrastructure (sewage treatment/sewer services 24 per cent, infrastructure planning roads nine per cent) while allowing secondary suites: only six per cent.
Many letters to the Oak Bay News have expressed concern about the state of our roads, traffic, etc. Not many letters are asking for suites to be regulated.
The Oak Bay 2009, Tangible Capital Asset Project (OCP) describes our infrastructure:
“Like other communities worldwide that were founded more than 100 years ago, a significant amount of the district’s underground infrastructure is in its latter years of service, and the needs for repair and replacement exceed the available resources.”
Based on the project data, $3.06 million annually is needed to maintain roads and sewers. In 2015 Oak Bay spent just $1.33 million. Result: our infrastructure is crumbling.
Any evidence-based priorities discussion would conclude: council should first focus on upgrading our aged infrastructure.
Then, in consultation with the community, begin developing a housing strategy, with knowledge of what our infrastructure can handle.
Regulating secondary suites, addressing duplexes and infill are follow-on elements of a good housing strategy.