Oak Bay Watch Public Meeting
September 12, 2017
Monterey Community Centre
Notes from the Facilitated Conversation with Participants
1. Redevelopment in Oak Bay has been seriously overdone. There has been little regard for the style and tone of the community.
2. There is an election coming and we need to find 6 good people to run.
3. We need more information on the issues. We need affordable housing as a priority and should we fail on this issue amalgamation in a real possibility.
4. What is happening with the Council and where is the report of the BC Ombudsman into excessive secrecy?
5. We are all here to learn from OBW and we may need to ask citizens of OB to back a slate of candidates in the next municipal election.
6. Some of us are sad to see the changes which are underway in this community. We seem to move from treed lots to deep holes in the ground overnight.
7. Development in recent years appears to be uncontrolled. We question the quality of Council decisions during the last several years, as we have no voice.
8. The changes we are seeing in this community are very painful.
9. Affordable housing a serious issue in this community and we seem to be doing little about it.
10. Homelessness is an issue in this community. We have great concern s about the future of Oak Bay and need a strong Community Association to represent our concerns to the Council.
11. The balance between vision and process, fear and hope is a problem for the community.
12. We are facing the need in the next few years of perhaps a 40% increase in property taxes. We need to increase our tax base through densification. Investment in the community matters to our future.
13. Housing affordability is a huge issue we face.
14. Transparency of Council actions and Municipal programmes and priorities is a significant issue. The municipal website does little to alleviate the situation. The current website is far from intuitive. Items we look for are found more by accident than thanks to the efficiency of the search engine. Developers seem to particularly take advantage of this transparency issue and are making huge profits as a result.
15. Make Council Responsive to the public as a matter of routine, not exception, which seems to be the case today. Requests to Council currently go largely unanswered. This is totally unacceptable. We need one voice to channel our views. We should form an association.
16. The challenge of affordable housing is growing in this community. There are far too few rental apartments available. Developers prefer to build condominiums for immediate sale – get in and get out. We will need in the future far more options for aging in place than are available at the moment. Where are the duplexes and town houses which could be more attractive than large single family homes for aging residents. Where is council leadership on this issue?? Increased density for retirement living is worth pursuing as a strategy.
17. Where is youth in this debate? We need to look beyond Oak Bay for solutions. How to connect to youth to gain their interest and support to move forward on the range of issues raised this evening.
18. Profound changes in the community, particularly in the last 7-8 years are a big problem. Very serious issue around public engagement by this Council and financial management by Council and staff have put his community at risk. Look at the Central Saanich website and their financial planning documents. Oak Bay has nothing like this available to us and all taxpayers. Central Saanich is clearly an excellent example for Oak Bay Council to follow. Is this a human resource/talent issue causing these problems or is it something more sinister – deliberately following the letter of municipal regulations rather than the spirit of same?
19. Some word is in the community that the council is planning to sell assets to meet financial obligations in future years, particularly the demands of aging infrastructure.
20. The whole issue of parking needs for a densifying community is being badly handled by Council and staff. There is talk of new buildings being designed and constructed with no provision for residents’ parking. The Council may be purchasing older homes to tear them down to create the necessary parking capacity. A real shame to lose beautiful old homes for cars, to reduce the burden on developers.
21. There was a comment on the failure of council and staff to carefully consider external costs of their decisions. Parking spaces and the loss of older homes, at great cost, for example…
22. Other communities and indeed other civilizations have had long term housing strategies in place. Where is our strategy? And we need to have serious conversations with UVic and Camosun College over the issue of student housing. In North Oak Bay there are many houses with multiple tenants with streets clogged with cars and activity well into the evenings. The colleges have land to build and currently only have capacity in student residences for first year students. This community cannot absorb the overflow which will, of course, grow year by year.
My impression is that most of the people present were anxious, not to say angry, about the increased density of residential construction across the community. The Council is blamed for too many condominium buildings under construction and far too many monster homes being built in other parts of the community. There was much discussion too about affordability of housing in Oak Bay but little linking of density and affordability.
It is all too clear that Oak Bay Council is held in low regard by those in attendance for a wide variety of reasons. Certainly Anthony’s presentation was rich in examples of ways this style of behavior has compromised residents’ ability to influence decisions. What we have here is a failure OF Council to communicate with a resulting mistrust among large numbers of residents.
In our discussions before the meeting the issue of the Budget process the Oak Bay Council has adopted strikes me as their Achilles heel. There can be no possible excuse for the way they have operated. One of the participants mentioned Central Saanich as an example of hoke thigs should work. Why not as Mayor Windsor to speak to OBW?
And there is no excuse at all today for a clumsy (Municipal) website or for the three month wait for the video of ‘Council meetings to be uploaded to the site. In my view this is all very purposeful and must be corrected. This whole set of issues is clear fodder for the next election.