Oak Bay ‘caught up in technicality’ with Lodge

Public reaction to Oak Bay Lodge vote shows more public engagement needed, says Coun. Tara Ney

Coun. Tara Ney stands outside the Oak Bay Lodge on Cadboro Bay Road. Ney was one of three Oak Bay councillors to vote no to the proposal to redevelop the Lodge into Garry Oak Village. The application

Coun. Tara Ney stands outside the Oak Bay Lodge on Cadboro Bay Road. Ney was one of three Oak Bay councillors to vote no to the proposal to redevelop the Lodge into Garry Oak Village. The application

At least one Oak Bay councillor says technicalities should be thrown aside in the wake of the vote against the redevelopment of Oak Bay Lodge.

Coun. Tara Ney, who opposed the $80-million redevelopment, said although the project technically only needed variance permits, it should have been treated differently.

“In reality the massing of this project and the impact on the community was significant. So we got caught up in the technicality,” she said.

Variance permits – in this case to increase the facility’s height by two storeys and to reduce the number of parking spots to 107 from 320 – don’t require much extensive consultation with neighbours.

But for projects like this, which would so affect the neighbourhood, council should consider sidestepping the normal process, Ney said.

Mayor Christopher Causton, who voted in favour of the proposal, said this application has taken longer and received more public input than the average variance.

“It’s a good point, though,” he ceded. “This is so much different and there should be a different process for this if you can find one, but remember this has been treated differently. It’s been six months since its been in staff’s hands. We’ve had two open houses and we’ve had at least five meetings.”

John Rankin, who lives adjacent to the Lodge on Hampshire Road, sided with Ney.

“A big misconception is when you say variance. It was a major variance,” Rankin said. “(Council) really needs to measure and consider what impact that variance would have. This was not just going to impact 100 neighbours, it was going to be very contrary to the goals of the (Official) Community Plan.”

He said the developers – the Vancouver Island Health Authority and Baptist Housing – should have consulted with council earlier in the process, such as in spring 2010 when Baptist won the bid for the project.

That way, council could have asked for the developers to get feedback for the project before final designs were submitted. It could have made the redevelopment much easier for neighbours to digest, Rankin said.

Mayor-elect Nils Jensen, who also voted against the application, said although Oak Bay staff had the report on the project as early as this spring, it couldn’t be shared with residents.

“Yes, staff received it, but there was an embargo placed on the information.”

VIHA pushed the project through at a period when the mayor was on holiday (in September) and during a municipal election, Jensen added.

“It had not been an open process from the very beginning and part of that was because VIHA had a confidential bid process which didn’t get completed until the early part of this year. That should have been the time they came to Oak Bay (for consultation). But they came to us in the 11th hour, coming to Oak Bay with what I think is fairly described as a fait accompli.”

Causton said regardless of timing, the project would have faced backlash because of its height.

“I think the lesson from this is perhaps the applicant should have spread more widely the message than they did. I don’t think anything they had done would have overcome the negativity the next-door neighbours felt towards the height of the building.”

With relatively high voter turnout at the Nov. 19 election (42 per cent) and large showings at meetings about the Lodge, this is the time to keep engaging Oak Bay residents, Ney said.

“There’s nothing trivial about this variance permit. People want a legitimate, authentic process. People are saying loud and clear they want to be a part of decision-making. They don’t want these decisions ramroded and pushed ahead until they’ve had their say.”

ecardone@vicnews.com

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

The Sooke Fine Arts Show will be online again this year, showcasing unique artworks from Vancouver Island and B.C.’s coastal island artists from July 23 to Aug. 2. (File - Sooke News Mirror)
Sooke Fine Arts Show goes virtual for second year in a row

Art exhibition and show set for July 23 to Aug. 2

Ownership of SISȻENEM — also known as Halibut Island located east off Sidney Island — has transferred to W̱SÁNEĆ Leadership Council after The Land Conservancy of British Columbia (TLC) had purchased the island for $1.55 million. (The Land Conservancy/Submitted)
SISȻENEM (Halibut Island) transfers to W̱SÁNEĆ Leadership Council under historic agreement

The Land Conservancy purchased the 9.67-acre island for $1.55 million with help from unnamed donor

Shannon Davis, manager at Sidney’s Star Cinema, holds up the largest available bag of popcorn available for sale at the theatre. It also also sells four smaller sizes in generating revenue following its closure last fall because of COVID-19. (Wolf Depner/News Staff)
Sidney theatre fills bottom line with popcorn sales

Theatre applying to return to doing our household-only private rentals

Landis Carmichael is the Goldstream Gazette 2021 Local Hero as the Emergency Services Award winner. (Photo courtesy Landis Carmichael)
29-year-old firefighter has spent almost half his life with Langford department

Landis Carmichael is the 2021 recipient of the Emergency Services Award

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry updates B.C.’s COVID-19 situation at the B.C. legislature. (B.C. government)
B.C. reports 10 additional deaths, 395 new COVID-19 cases

The majority of new coronavirus infections were in the Fraser Health region

Anyone with information on any of these individuals is asked to call 1-800-222-TIPS (8477) or visit the website victoriacrimestoppers.ca for more information.
Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers wanted list for the week of Feb. 23

Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers is seeking the public’s help in locating the… Continue reading

(Black Press Media File Photo)
POLL: Are you struggling with Greater Victoria’s cost of housing?

While Victoria remains one of the most expensive cities in the country… Continue reading

Site C will go ahead, one year later and $5.3 billion more, the NDP announced Feb 26. (BC Hydro image)
B.C. NDP announces Site C will go ahead with new $16B budget

Reviews recommend more oversight, beefed up foundation stability work

The BC Prosecution Service announced last year that it was appointing lawyer Marilyn Sandford as a special prosecutor to review the case, following media inquiries about disclosure issues linked to a pathologist involved in the matter. (Black Press Media files)
Possible miscarriage of justice in B.C. woman’s conviction in toddler drowning: prosecutor

Tammy Bouvette was originally charged with second-degree murder but pleaded guilty in 2013 to the lesser charge

A kid in elementary school wearing a face mask amid the COVID-19 pandemic. (Metro Creative)
Union asks why an elementary school mask rule wouldn’t work in B.C. if it does elsewhere

B.C. education minister announced expansion of mask-wearing rules in middle, high school but not elementary students

A pharmacist prepares a COVID-19 vaccine at Village Green Retirement Campus in Federal Way on Jan. 26. (Olivia Sullivan/Sound Publishing)
Canada approves use of AstraZeneca’s COVID-19 vaccine

The country joins more than a dozen others in giving the shot the green light

Nanaimo Ladysmith Public Schools is preparing a rapid response team proposal for submission to the B.C. Ministry of Education. (Chris Bush/News Bulletin)
Nanaimo school district chosen as Vancouver Island’s COVID-19 rapid response team

Team to consist of SD68 and Island Health staff, according to B.C. Ministry of Education

A new survey has found that virtual visits are British Columbian’s preferred way to see the doctor amid the COVID-19 pandemic. (Unsplash)
Majority of British Columbians now prefer routine virtual doctor’s visits: study

More than 82% feel virtual health options reduce wait times, 64% think they lead to better health

Most Read