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LETTER: Oak Bay must open door to new regulations for secondary suites

Oak Bay Watch (aka Anthony Mears and a few other people) continue to promulgate misleading information about potential changes in our wonderful residential community. This is incredibly unhelpful in fostering informed debate and discussion about what we want to see in our collective future with respect to regulation of secondary suites in private homes.

The Official Community Plan (OCP) is our community’s vision document and should be referred to as we chart our future course and it calls for regulation of this housing form.

Our current outdated regulations regarding two boarders in private homes are not the same as having regulated secondary suites in private homes.

Firstly, kitchens are not allowed (monitored through the presence of a stove and wiring for a stove) – hot plates are not a safe alternative to proper wiring and appliances.

Secondly, the tenant must have access to the rest of the house while the owner may not – without notice – have access to the rental quarters. Both want privacy.

Thirdly, our older homes were not built for suites and few have been updated to meet safe living standards or building code provisions such as ceiling height, fire safe insulation, etc. Some practical regulation is needed to ensure older suites are safe for tenants.

Fourthly, neighbours can complain about the presence of such living space and the owner may be compelled to give notice to the renter(s), thereby making such living arrangements insecure for both the owner and the renter(s).

Fifthly, our municipal government does not receive any revenue for the additional costs needed to service our current unregulated secondary suites such as sewage or waste collection (other than water which is charged on a usage basis), nor does the municipal government even know how many there are or where they are located.

Finally, secondary suites are everywhere across Oak Bay now and provide a much-needed form of “missing middle housing” to residents. They are one puzzle piece only. No one wants “over” densification but “gentle” densification of a developed residential community with accompanying zoning bylaw and regulatory change can help to provide much-needed affordable housing.

Jan Mears (no relation to Anthony Mears)

Oak Bay

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