I ran for election to Oak Bay Council because, at heart, I care about Oak Bay - I love living here and raising my family here.
(Short on time - Get my Brochure with a summary of my Platform)
These are some of my core positions and policies. Please share with me your views. I am always open to new ideas and innovations.
- Oak Bay is the best place to live in greater Victoria. Why? Because of the quality of our single-family dwelling neighbourhoods - they are safe, quiet and unique. Most of our roads are not congested with traffic and lined with parked cars. These are some of the reasons why people want to live, and to continue to live, in Oak Bay.
- I will work hard to ensure our zoning and building bylaws reflect planned development. It is apparent the present ad hoc, spot-zoning approach we currently have has too many "unintended consequences". I will continue to discourage the reconstruction or replacement of existing homes with larger, out of scale structures that not only interfere with the neighbouring properties but also significantly reduce our urban forest.
- I am also concerned with housing affordability. I support the BC Government’s systematic and comprehensive "30 Point Plan for Housing Affordability in British Columbia". I highly recommend all become familiar with it. Regarding the included vacancy tax, I have lobbied government directly that it not be applied to any Canadian citizen - in a similar way to other countries' application of this necessary measure. I will continue to recommend some of the innovative affordable housing ideas I have suggested to Council that respect the character of our community.
- Short-term rentals (STR) are a new phenomenon that all local governments are struggling with. These are displacing long-term rentals and disturbing neighbours. I will press for strong regulation and enforcement. My research has identified several small BC communities that have had good success and are well supported by the courts when enforcement was necessary.
- Our single-family neighbourhoods must be protected and preserved, but it is obvious that this is not the intent of the majority of our previous two councils. The majority of recent councils have made it clear they want to significantly increase the density of our single-family neighbourhoods by wholesale legalization of: secondary suites, lane-way and garden suites, duplexes, etc. This will have serious impacts on our live-ability that need proper analysis and input from the affected neighbourhoods.
- Uncontrolled growth, related to taxes, will put too much pressure on our already under-funded infrastructure, and create more noise, more traffic, and parking problems. Our growth must be planned and gradual so our taxes and services and resources and excellent staff can absorb and handle the impacts. Our high taxes should have been allocated to improvement initiatives and not to supporting development priorities - for this reason I voted against the 2018 budget.
- There is no doubt change is inevitable; but careful planning and excellent public consultation will ensure it will be positive change.
- I will work hard to protect the rights of existing residents and the general public interest. I am concerned the Official Community plan is too vague and has too many loopholes. It is already time for the Provincial recommended five-year review.
- I believe Joni Mitchell got it right with her line "That you don't know what you've got / Till it's gone". If elected I will fight to protect what we’ve got and help to make sure it stays. When change is needed, I prefer a slow and steady approach.
P.S. I support Proportional Representation and will be voting for change - from our current "first past the post" voting system. Please learn what this is about as the mail-in referendum is coming very soon! Here are a few links to get you started:
I encourage you to contact me with your ideas. Let's work on this together.
Eric Wood Zhelka
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Thank you for considering donating to my Re-Election run as Councillor for the District of Oak Bay.
Eric Wood Zhelka, P.Eng
The University of Victoria Students Society asked candidates a variety of questions around the needs of students and how the municipality can support them. I have included my responses below.
RUNNING FOR: Councillor, District of Oak Bay
If elected, how do you plan to support students?:
Oak Bay is fortunate to have a world-class university on its doorstep. Students attending UVic need an environment that supports their dedication and growth.
I believe that we support students by making them feel welcome and getting them the services they need. If we have done our job by providing a safe, peaceful, and welcoming environment, those students who are visiting us for the first time will want to stay here for good.
After the high cost of tuition fees, the cost of housing is the biggest burden to students and a barrier for some students to be able to access post-secondary education. If elected, what will you do to ease this burden?:
With half of UVic in Oak Bay, young adults who have grown up here have the option to live at home while attending university. Those who are visiting the region have several options including room and board arrangements or the rental of an unregulated secondary suite. With a new Official Community Plan bylaw in place, there will be a move to legalize and regulate secondary suites. As a member of Oak Bay Council, I will work to ensure that careful regulation creates an acceptance of suites in the areas where there is demand, and I will ensure that regulated suites are safe and comfortable homes away from home.
Taking in boarders is an option that has been very successful for visiting international students. Many Oak Bay families, mine included, take University and other home-stay students into their homes thereby proving a cost-effective alternative to apartment or suites. As a member of Oak Bay Council I would advocate that the municipality works with UVic to explore and expand this under-utilized housing option, possibly through an Oak Bay Housing Registry.
Students rely on public transportation to get us to where we live, work, and study. However, full busses as well as night routes that don’t go late enough make our primary mode of transportation unreliable. If elected, what would you do to address these issues?:
Students who choose to make our community their own can realistically bike, walk, and take public transit. These options will help students who might otherwise pay a multitude of expenses related to car ownership. While physical activities like biking or walking can help manage the stresses of student life, public transportation will always be critical.
As a member of Oak Bay Council I will be an advocate for improved bicycling routes throughout the municipality and to UVic. I will also ensure that the community is well served by a variety of public transit routes so that students can thrive without cars. For those who need cars, I will continue to be a supporter of the Victoria Car Share/Modo co-op.
Most students have to work while studying to help pay for our education, yet options for jobs are extremely limited. Also, students leave our programs saddled with debt and find a bleak job market. If elected, what would you do to bolster student/recent graduate jobs in our municipalities?:
I will work with UVic Career Services to help identify co-op job placement and work experience opportunities in Oak Bay for students.
Unfortunately, with the upcoming closure of the Oak Bay Lodge facility, Oak Bay is losing its second largest employer making it an even more challenging work environment.
I will work to support not only business and institutions who wish to respectfully locate in Oak Bay, but also, I will be an advocate for Open Data initiatives at the municipality providing raw data that might prove valuable to the entrepreneur and small business startups.
Where can students get more information on your platform?:
For more information about me and my vision for Oak Bay, please visit my website at www.ericzhelka.ca
Responses from other candidates are available here.
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