I read with interest the two-part series in the Oak Bay News on densifying Oak Bay. Although the articles give an impression of neutrality, they are far from it. They are full of the tried-and-true development lobbying mantra that have been used to promote over-densification objectives throughout B.C. They paint Oak Bay as old fashioned and anti-change. “Character” is framed as an unsavory, unpleasant word.
There is no evidence residents are fleeing Oak Bay because of the price of housing, in fact the opposite is true. Of course, speculators and investors, with profits in hand, are the exception and perhaps these are who Coun. Appleton is referring to?
The test is how are communities that have over-densified making out? Have their housing prices dropped, or are they continuing to escalate? How are they dealing with the congestion and problems over-densification has caused? Have livability, parking and traffic conditions improved? Are there fewer or more cars commuting on a daily basis? Is this a plus or minus for climate change? So many questions, unfortunately they are short of answers.
Vancouver, Burnaby, Surrey, Saanich and Victoria, for example, have unchecked controls on infill, multi-tenant basement suites, cluster housing subdivisions, duplexes and multiplexes. Attempts to enforce conditions, some known to be legally unenforceable, have been abandoned. Ask Surrey and Delta how and why their million-dollar infill enforcement programs have failed miserably.
If Oak Bay’s future development is going to be anything like what the district has and is experiencing since the zoning bylaw was, according to the previous director of building and planning, rendered “inconsistent,” then the new proposed over-densification will not receive popular support.
If the population increase estimates come close to predictions, at some point all of our cities and districts will be over-densified and uninhabitable. We will have to build new ones anyway, let’s hope they are as livable as Oak Bay.