At the September 20, 2022 Council meeting, Oak Bay Council adopted bylaws to finally bring regulated secondary suites to Oak Bay. This issue has been on the radar in Oak Bay since 2006 so was long overdue for approval as a viable housing option. That there are already approximately 800 existing suites in the community was another compelling reason to move ahead, especially for public health and safety reasons.
The last hurdle to final adoption involved a requirement for off-street parking for homeowners who have a suite. I have long opposed this requirement, seeing it as just another barrier to providing more badly needed rental housing in Oak Bay. After a long discussion at the Council table, the vote was 5 to 2 in favour of dropping the off-street parking requirement in favour of a requirement for homes to have an exterior 110V electrical plug, suitable for trickle charging an electric vehicle, including an electric bike.
I have long supported and advocated for secondary suite regulation in Oak Bay, believing that they are a legitimate and much needed form of housing. It was also important to me that we bring homeowners with existing suites and their tenants, out of the shadows, that the reference to “illegal” suites was terminology to which I strongly objected; no one had committed a crime. I encouraged us to change the language we used to describe existing suites as “unregulated.”
I am gratified that I was part of this Council, one that finally put to bed the issue of secondary suites in Oak Bay, establishing the first set of bylaws to regulate suites and more importantly, to establish a culture of acceptance and legitimacy in our community, for both homeowners and their tenants.