In a vote of 6 to 1, the Clive re-development proposal passed third reading on March 11, following a packed Public Hearing attended by over 200 people, with standing room only. Out of nearly 50 speakers, over 80% spoke in favour of the proposal and urged Mayor and Council to move the Clive proposal forward and approve it. I was pleased to see so many Oak Bay residents of all ages attending and speaking, and particularly gratified to hear support for this project from younger people who have recently moved to Oak Bay.
In preparation for the hearing, I spent a few days researching information about the CRD and about Oak Bay and shared the following facts with the audience after the hearing and before the Council decision on the Clive:
- Oak Bay Councils have used spot zoning to deal with development decisions over the past few decades, using a public hearing process that ironically gives the public a greater voice in and more control over decision-making.
- Since 2005, Oak Bay has welcomed major developments such as Carlton House, Shannon Oaks, the Hamilton, the Penny Farthing Pub, the Winchester Gallery, Ottavio’s, the Oak Bay Beach Hotel and re-development of Oak Bay High School.
- Prior to 2005, Oak Bay welcomed new density residential development of duplexes, high and low rise apartments and condos and townhouses, built from north to south and along Newport Ave. and Beach Dr. to the border of the Victoria Golf Course as well as in neighbourhood areas.
- In 2003, Oak Bay signed on to the CRD’s Regional Growth Strategy as a partner municipality and adopted the Strategy’s goals of compact urban settlement, protection of green and blue space, manage natural resources and environmental sustainability, build complete communities, improve housing affordablity, strengthen the regional economy, and increase transportation choice.
- In 2005/2008, Oak Bay consolidated its existing Official Community Plan’s Regional Context Statement as follows: support modest re-development of multi-family housing (RM3); attempt to increase by 2011 its designated planned capacity for a range of housing types by 5%; support complete communities by requiring new multi-family developments to locate close to commercial centres and transportation infrastructure; and, support strengthening the regional economy through its support of local and commercial businesses areas.
- In 2009, the CRD commissioned a planning report “Context for Change Management in the CRD,” that projected by 2038, there will be a 20% increase to the regional labour force, a 20% to employment and a 50% increase in apartment living, for affordability and lifestyle reasons.
- 27.5% of the region’s urban core renters live in inadequate housing.
- in 2001, to purchase a starter home in the region, a family needed an annual income of over $72,000. By 2006, just 5 years later, to purchase that same starter home required an annual income of over $131,000.
- Oak Bay has a lack of purpose-built rental housing, in a rental market where the vacancy rate has been one of the lowest in the country, at just 0.5%.
I believe that the Clive proposal addresses many of these factors and touches on local and regional objectives that include sustainable development, transportation, affordable housing, ecological health, climate change, social well-being and economic sustainability.
The public consultation process for the Clive proposal over the past nearly 18 months has been controversial, yes. But it has also been open, transparent and has engaged residents and the municipality as well as included qualified planning expertise to guide the process. The developer has completed hundreds of hours of negotiation with municipal staff, adjacent businesses, residents and the neighbourhood and has agreed to:
- reduce the number of rental units
- reduce the floor area
- build just 3 feet taller than the existing building
- increase north and south setbacks
- create 17 parking stalls
- sign a Housing Agreement
- enter into a Restrictive Covenant
- complete shadow and traffic studies
- create a landscape plan and manage on site storm water and drainage
- build a LEED system building, a first for Oak Bay
- avoid blasting
Oak Bay’s Advisory Design Panel (ADP) approved the development for siting and design, adding the following comments: “appropriate, an improvement to Oak Bay Ave., reasonable and current changes to the proposal are subtle yet significant.”
As you know by now, I voted to approve the Clive.
FINES FOR FEEDING DEER
You will recall that I did not support earlier changes to the current Animal Control Bylaw that would increase the fine for feeding urban deer by a two-stage approach — $300 for the first infraction and $500 for each subsequent infraction. A staff report advised that Council cannot impose this type of fee structure so an amendment to the original motion was needed before the bylaw could be changed. I again argued for a lower fine of $300, which was the amount originally suggested in a previous staff report. Council voted 5 to 2 to adopt an amendment that set a single fine of $300. I believe that this is reasonable, given that the municipality has no hard core evidence about deer-feeding (who, how many and where). No one has ever been fined to date and bylaw enforcement has no documented record of infractions. It will be important to track and monitor this change to the bylaw to understand the extent of the problem.