Letter: Current suites conversation misses on future prospects

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There is a motion before council directing staff to present a plan to implement secondary suites. The focus is on existing suites, with little discussion on new development. Council and developers advise that Oak Bay must keep up with housing options available in other communities. There is no mention that Oak Bay needs to keep up with the policies and regulations that enable other communities to responsibly manage the process.

In an attempt to understand concerns expressed by residents, I followed several development applications through various meetings where discrepancies become evident. The most troubling conflict is the lack of district policy for the approving officer. While the AO’s discretion is independent from elected officials and municipal staff, on matters like contributions to parkland acquisition reserves, it is council’s responsibility to create policy.

As a result of information in one AO report (acquired via FOI) and a question of council on Jan. 22, I learned that council has not delegated the authority to staff to consider parkland acquisition, or financial contributions in lieu of parkland. If the AO’s report shows that contribution is ‘to be determined’ the matter must, therefore, be brought to council for a decision. Council have failed to reveal their responsibility. Instead, tens of thousands of dollars are left out of the deliberations.

It is imprudent of council to consider proceeding with a motion on secondary suites, or other infill, until they adopt policies to eliminate disparities like this. It is irresponsible, if not reckless, to propose implementation of a program that could push unexpected costs onto taxpayers, or reduce services. To do so shows a total disregard for impact on the community, and for long-term financial sustainability. I request that council present the community with a financial and services impact analysis for a fully informed decision.

Esther Paterson

Oak Bay