A prime example of how Oak Bay municipality discourages new housing and boosts taxes was on full-display at the July 27 council meeting. See Consideration of a Temporary Protection Order – 785 Island Rd https://oakbay.civicweb.net/filepro/document/43805/Special%20Council%20Meeting%20-%2027%20Jul%202020.docx?handle=7CD83EAA23A2424FB2A688EE63BB6DC5
Council adopted a motion to invoke a temporary heritage protection order to prevent demolition of a home. Except Oak Bay had the opportunity for a heritage designation by the property owner plus new housing if the municipality had presented a reasonable off-site servicing estimate.
However, the municipality’s demand of more than $400,000 for off-site servicing two lots was not financially viable nor fair. Oak Bay is requiring extensive infrastructure upgrades for not only the proposed new home on an adjoining lot & street, but also for the older home already serviced.
If the property owner were able to demo the older home and build a new home, no off-site servicing would be required – just the cost of connecting to the existing sewer and water.
Off-site servicing should have been required only for the proposed new home, not the older existing home that is already serviced. This would significantly lower the costs and establish a designated heritage home and a new home.
Oak Bay’s new housing starts are in significant decline, as is now an opportunity to establish more diverse housing, which is allegedly a strategic goal of the municipality.
The report to council that Oak Bay’s “Strategic Priorities” for diverse housing have been supported is without merit. Oak Bay is not proceeding with two diverse homes – one heritage home and one new home. This was obstructed by unreasonable servicing estimates that could be accomplished for much less. The report also claims to deliver “Service Excellence” in handing the application, which is clearly not the case. The challenges and costly delays have been ongoing, now extended 60 days by the temporary protection order.
If Oak Bay continues to insist on a heritage designation for the older home, a revised servicing quote would help make the property owner’s project viable while adding to Oak Bay’s new housing. It would be a win-win at no cost to taxpayers.
If council proceeds with the mandatory heritage designation, BC laws require the municipality pay significant compensation for lost market value to the owner. That is, the taxpayers will be required to pay.
This is a municipality with the highest property taxes in the CRD, which were just raised by 7.34% – the highest increase in the CRD during a pandemic, while other municipalities like Colwood have adopted 0%.
If Oak Bay taxpayers want to understand why their taxes are so high, this latest fiasco is a good example.
It’s also an example of why Oak Bay ranks in the top 3, with Saanich and Victoria, of municipalities to avoid for home building.
UPDATE: After keeping the property owner in limbo for more than 60 days, Oak Bay council’s attempt at forced heritage designation, (for which there was no policy or precedent) failed in a tie vote. They fumbled the offer of free heritage designation and new housing stock because they were unable to arrive at a fair agreement. This is a classic example of how the BC govt’s policy of municipal self-determination is an abject failure and only contributes to the housing crisis in terms of costly obstructive processes, rising housing prices, and a lack of housing options. Oak Bay has only 2 legal duplexes and no legal secondary suites.