Oak Bay seeking feedback on plan to diversify housing types in municipality

Oak Bay seeking feedback on plan to diversify housing types in municipality
District of Oak Bay/Twitter

Oak Bay is seeking public feedback on a plan to allow additional types of housing, including detached suites, duplexes, townhouses and heritage conversions.

District staff are in the final stages of the engagement process before bringing the results to council to help inform a decision by the incoming council following the municipal elections on Oct. 15.

Kevin Murdoch, mayor of Oak Bay, says the municipality is looking at a number of ways to achieve diversity in housing.

“One option, for sure, is that we can do it through zoning, through guidelines as to what zoning is approved based on meeting certain criteria,” Murdoch told CHEK News. “It might be a pre-zoning for certain types of housing, we don’t know exactly yet. But we know that the end goal there is to make it easier for people to build those kinds of housing forms.”

A survey to collect residents’ thoughts is open until Sept. 5.

The Infill Housing Strategy looked at similar housing policies in communities in the province, including Central Saanich’s infill housing project, West Vancouver’s gentle density, and the City of Victoria’s missing middle initiative.

The types of infill housing Oak Bay is considering are detached suites like laneway or garden suites, duplexes, triplexes, townhouses, heritage conversions, and subdivision of larger lots.

With the potential exception of Heritage Conversions, all of these types of homes are groundoriented, meaning they have their own external entrance (rather than an internal entrance, like apartment buildings),” the engagement website says. “Heritage conversions may have internal access to each unit, depending on the building.”

Murdoch says this strategy came forward following a housing needs assessment for the municipality.

“What we’ve acknowledged is that there’s quite a number of housing needs that we’re not meeting, we have a primarily family neighbourhood currently,” Murdoch said.

“And what we’re looking for is looking at ways of adding some new housing forms to meet the needs, whether that’s people who are downsizing and wanting to move laterally to stay in the neighbourhoods or younger families moving in, or just changing as the family size changes.”

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

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

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

“The report will come back with information that’ll help inform the infill housing strategy for the next council,” Murdoch said. “Once you’ve decided on what you’re doing, you still have to go through a lot of work, to change bylaws or change other aspects. So it is really making sure that we’re trying to give as much information as possible to the next council so they can go through a decision making process with the community.”

The survey can be found on the district’s engagement website here.

Paper surveys are available at:

  • Henderson Recreation Centre
  • Monterey Recreation Centre
  • Municipal Hall
  • Oak Bay Recreation Centre

“I really am hoping that we have the overwhelming majority of people in Oak Bay fill in the survey because I think that data is going to be very important for the next council,” Murdoch said.

Laura BroughamLaura Brougham

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