Highlights of November 18th Committee of the Whole Meeting

Additional Events Planned for February and March 2013
  • Oak Bay Parks and Recreation Commission

Oak Bay Parks and Recreation Commission Chair Monty Holding and Director Ray Herman reported out a provisional budget summary, along with answers to any questions from Council about the monthly Commission minutes.

Mr. Herman indicates that there will be low budget increases over the next year, proposing no admission increase, only a 1% increase to passes and a 2% increase to rentals.

Related to a proposed deer fence for the Native Plant Garden that may be funded from an anonymous donor’s estate, a suggested design was shared with Council and will be forwarded to the Heritage Advisory Commission for their input.

  • Land Use

A variance related to a building permit application for an Uplands house on Beach Drive was deferred pending a referral back to the Advisory Design Panel (ADP).  The ADP had recommended that quoining be retained at the corners of the new home to soften its design.  The owner is opposed to the quoining.  At a recent site visit of the Uplands Land Use Committee, of which I am a member with Councillors Copley and Herbert, we noted that the house would benefit from the added design feature.  Council referred the project back to the ADP for further input on the quoining and an added balcony that did not appear in the original plans.  The architect appeared on behalf of the owners and I stressed that every time the owner makes a random change to the house without including it in the plans, it delays the final approval process.  The architect seemed to understand and agreed to convey this fact to the owner.

A variance related to plans to build a new home was deferred pending further consultation with the owner to save twin Garry oak trees on the lot.  The house plans show that these mature and beautiful trees must be removed to accommodate the footprint of the new home.  I agreed with Councillors Copley and Herbert and with the staff recommendation that further consideration to save these trees is necessary.  They are a distinct and unique natural feature on the lot and we all believe that there are other options to removal.  I have emphasized before the importance of protecting Oak Bay’s urban forest and tree canopies, especially Garry oak trees and stands.

A Heritage Revitalization Agreement on Roslyn Road received approval by Council to move the application to the next Council meeting.  The owner’s plans have been in the hopper for the past five years.  This plan has not been without controversy because of its heritage significance.  Immediate neighbours are very concerned about tree loss on the double lot to make room for a new home and potential blasting for a new foundation that could damage older homes nearby.  Discussion ensued and I shared the concerns of neighbours about the blasting.  Tree retention is also vital to protect the heritage streetscape.  Council directed staff to explore the use of rock removal that may not involve conventional blasting or, at the very least, apply low impact blasting techniques.  The owner seemed agreeable to this recommendation and has been working with his neighbours to address their concerns.

The Clive development project was the last item on our agenda, one that has come back to us for the fourth time in the past year.  The developer has been working with municipal staff, Oak Bay’s Advisory Design Panel, architects and residents to make modifications to the proposal that involve massing, parking and design.  This application has had its share of opposition and controversy.  Unfortunately, some of the information circulated in pamphlets is outdated and based on the original application of a year ago.  Residents concerned about receiving misleading or incorrect information about the project continue to bring this to my attention so I raised the issue again at our meeting.  I believe that it is imperative that neighbours and residents remain well informed with current, accurate and unbiased information and I encourage them to conduct their own research first before making conclusions about the pros and cons of the proposal.

The architect presented a three dimensional model (displayed in the foyer of municipal hall) and a power point that shows the details of recent changes, all of which were approved by the ADP at its last meeting earlier this month.  There was a small contingent of neighbours and residents at the meeting, as well as those who support the proposal.  After lengthy discussion, I voted with Council to move the project to the next stage of the application process.  Staff will be writing new zoning bylaws and will prepare for a public hearing in the new year.  Only Councillor Herbert voted against moving it forward, citing concerns about the size of the building, etc.

I have previously stated my reasons for moving this through the approval process, primarily because I think that the project in its current form has merit and could be an asset to Oak Bay.  The developer has worked very hard to try to address the concerns about massing, parking and design, especially to the north wall.  Two units have been deleted from the project to allow the building to be pulled back from the north corner to try to accommodate the homeowner adjacent and setbacks on Clive Drive have been generally increased to soften the streetscape.  Finally, a public hearing will ensure that the broader Oak Bay community is consulted and has input before any final decisions are made, as it should be.  Stay tuned…