Oak Bay seeks input on plan to diversify housing types in municipality

Oak Bay is seeking public comment on a plan to allow more housing types, including single suites, duplexes, townhouses and heritage conversions.

District staff are in the final stages of the engagement process before presenting the results to council to help inform a decision by the new council following the October 15 municipal election.

Kevin Murdoch, Mayor of Oak Bay, says the municipality is considering several ways to achieve diversity in housing.

“One option, of course, is that we can do it through zoning, through guidelines as to whether zoning is approved based on certain criteria,” Murdoch told CHEK News. “It could be pre-zoning for certain types of housing, we don’t know exactly yet. But we know that the end goal is to facilitate the construction of this type of housing.

A survey to gather residents’ opinions is open until September 5.

The Infill Housing Strategy examined similar housing policies in communities across the province, including the Central Saanich Infill Housing Project, West Vancouver’s Low Density and the City of Victoria’s Missing Middle Initiative.

The types of infill housing Oak Bay is considering are single suites such as lane or garden lodges, duplexes, triplexes, townhouses, heritage conversions, and the subdivision of larger lots.

With the potential with the exception of heritage conversions, aall of these types of houses are on the groundoriented, meaning they have their own external the entrance (rather than an interior entrance, such as apartment buildings),” the engagement website reads. “Legacy conversions can have internal access to each unit, depending on the building.

Murdoch says this strategy was presented following an assessment of the municipality’s housing needs.

“What we have recognized is that there are a number of housing needs that we are not meeting, we currently have a predominantly family neighborhood,” Murdoch said.

“And what we’re looking at is finding ways to add new forms of housing to meet the needs, whether it’s people who are downsizing and want to move laterally to stay in neighborhoods or young families moving in, or just changing as the size of the family changes.

The three guiding principles of the plan are to provide diverse housing options, to facilitate implementation and to “treasure what the community loves”.

“It was clear from the engagement process that people love the established character of Oak Bay,” the survey said. “To be successful, the infill housing strategy must recognize and respond to what is loved so it can be cherished in the future.”

In the survey, which the district says will take between 15 and 20 minutes, residents are asked about their level of support on: guiding principles, each type of housing offered in specific neighborhoods, incentives to encourage diversity, possible zoning changes, development-permit-like process and changes to parking requirements.

“The report will come back with information that will help inform the infill housing strategy for the next council,” Murdoch said. “Once you’ve decided what you’re doing, you still have a lot of work to do, changing the rules or changing other things. So it’s really about making sure that we try to give as much information as possible to the next board so they can go through a decision-making process with the community.

The survey can be viewed on the district’s pledge website here.

Paper surveys are available at:

  • Henderson Recreation Center
  • Monterey Recreation Center
  • Municipal hall
  • Oak Bay Recreation Center

“I really hope the overwhelming majority of Oak Bay residents respond to the survey because I think the data will be very important for the next council,” Murdoch said.

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