Oak Bay will inject funds from last year’s budget into this year toward regulation of secondary suite. The remaining roughly $85,000 allocated for infill policy development
The draft budget allocates $60,000 this year. The balance would be applied to next year’s cost, an estimated $64,000.
“We had put money aside last year for the implementation of the official community plan and there was still $85,000 available,” said Oak Bay Mayor Nils Jensen.
Those in support cited implementing of the official community plan, updated in 2014, as a reason for supporting pursuing regulation.
“We are the second last municipality in the region to regulate secondary suites … given the housing crisis that is ongoing, this is timely. It’s necessary, we’ve been working on this for a decade,” said Coun. Michelle Kirby. “I’m not sure how it’s going to roll out but I do believe it’s time to get on with it.”
Coun. Tara Ney feels regulation would “get homeowners and renters out of the shadow of the law.”
Staff workload was the primary objection of those who did not support the successful move.
“I think this is the wrong time with the amount of work we have staff already doing,” said Coun. Eric Zhelka.
Coun. Hazel Braithwaite reiterated her concern that they should start with an overall housing strategy.
“I think we need a more fulsome strategy for housing and I don’t think this is the way to do it,” Braithwaite said. “I agree staff does not have the capacity.”
It’s not about being in favour or opposed to secondary suites, said Coun. Kevin Murdoch, who also hoped to see a “broader housing strategy discussion” to apply to OCP recommendations
“It’s going to put at risk the work we have to get done to get our grants done by March of next year. That’s the most compelling reason to not move this forward this year,” he said. “I don’t’ see how we can do anything but essentially sticking to a holding pattern here, focus on the infrastructure, doing projects, put the money aside.”
The secondary suite regulation funding is currently part of the draft budget which still needs to be ratified by council.
“(Staff) know this is an issue and they’re carefully going to monitor the capacity to carry out firstly the heritage conservation area then secondly the secondary suites implementation,” Jensen said. “They were quite confident that they could do that.”
While it was previously considered, council does not plan to pursue potential rezoning for non-conforming duplexes.
“That is something that would have created too great a burden on our staff and our budget,” Jensen said. “That’s something that’s been pushed off into the future.”