An aerial view over Oak Bay. (Black Press Media File Photo)An aerial view over Oak Bay and the Marina. Oak Bay residents pay the highest taxes on Vancouver Island. Don Denton/Black Press

Oak Bay secondary suites study considers units old and new

Secondary suites draft report due in new year

Oak Bay’s long-awaited secondary suites study has been slowed by COVID but is now in the final stages and expected to be presented to council by March 2021.

On Nov. 16, council received an update on the progress of the study that was initiated in 2018 and will contain a strategy on regulating secondary suites.

More community consultation is scheduled for January. Ultimately, the goal is to consider the legalization of suites and the report will be part of Oak Bay’s housing framework program.

The study is now focused on key components of regulating secondary suites, said manager of planning Deborah Jensen in her report to council.

READ ALSO: Survey shows Oak Bay divided over secondary suites

Oak Bay’s housing needs report that came out in early 2020 showed house ownership in Oak Bay is becoming unaffordable for most families. The average cost of a single-family home grew 48 per cent from 2010 to 2018. In that time the average household income grew at an estimated 12 per cent.

The study will make recommendations on revisiting and updating zoning and building code bylaws for purpose-built secondary suites. It will also address ways to regulate existing secondary suites.

“Consideration of existing secondary suites, as with new suites, provides another avenue for housing diversity and affordability,” said the report.

The Housing Needs Report estimated that as of 2016, there were approximately 750 rental units in Oak Bay that were in houses or condos, or secondary suites, and not listed as primary rental units.

READ ALSO: Changes to B.C. building code address secondary suites

“This could range from voluntary compliance to required compliance and enforcement; and where compliance is not feasible, new policies could provide for an alternate approach,” the report said.

Parking is also something that will be considered as the district seeks to “ensure minimal impact on the existing street and neighbourhood character.”

“Requiring on-site parking must be balanced with the desire to retain significant amounts of green space and tree canopy cover,” said the report.

reporter@oakbaynews.com

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