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I’d like to hear your views on how we can better protect and enhance Oak Bay. Feel free to contact me with your ideas. Let's work on this together.
Eric Wood Zhelka
At heart, because I care about Oak Bay - I love living here and raising my family here. I prefer a slow and steady approach to change.
(Short on time - Get my Brochure with a summary of my Platform)
Oak Bay still has a lot of big ticket items coming due: bylaws and policies have not yet been aligned with the OCP, sewage and water allocations, Uplands sewer and storm water separation project, roads that need attention. I believe Oak Bay needs to stick to the basics and the reality of what a small municipality can and cannot do.
Until we put our municipal house in order, there should be no new programs that add to our tax load in the near future, unless funding can be found elsewhere.
Natural environment stewardship
A sound urban forest strategy implementation will slow down the rate at which we are losing our urban forest.
Oak Bay needs a tree protection bylaw that actually protects trees from new construction. The current bylaw is a classic unintended incentive for a developer to demolish instead of renovate.
We need to increase & widen our support and collaboration with the Urban Wildlife Stewardship Society’s non-lethal and humane program to effectively & efficiently reduce the number of BC’s deer in Oak Bay.
Shoreline protection: the Official Community Plan (OCP) bylaw has made a good start. This should be improved by reducing Council's ability to vary the rules.
Land use stewardship
Oak Bay’s neighbourhoods must be preserved and protected as best as we can.
In recent years, changes to Oak Bay’s building bylaws have permitted over-sized reconstructions to dramatically interfere with neighbouring homes. Council acknowledges there have been a number of "unintended consequences". A 92% approval rate of any zoning variance requested reflects a zoning bylaw in dire need of updating.
The new OCP says we have to plan for an expected population increase of 0.5% net per year (90 people). However, the consistent historical rate of population increase in Oak Bay is 0.3% net per year (50 people) as per Census and the Capital Regional District. It is hard to plan if we cannot trust our numbers.
It is important for us to accommodate an expected (small) population increase within Oak Bay, while at the same time recognizing we are fully built-out.
The new OCP provides little guidance on the broad policy of "develop diverse and inclusive housing options". Instead of applying this to the entire municipality, this should be focused where population increases are the most appropriate. Strong regulations and enforcement will be necessary to minimize the impact on all stakeholders and the environment.
- New policies must be crafted to deal with Short Term Rentals. Tofino and Richmond have good templates for us to consider. You can see my research here and here.
- As per our OCP, Vacant Houses are becoming more of a problem - as Oak Bay was not designed to be a place to park investments and not live in the community. I fully support the Province's comprehensive & systematic attempt to address this problem and related issues in their 30 Point Plan for Housing Affordability.
Because of the new OCP, ALL of our bylaws & policies must be rewritten. I will bring my expertise and professional experience to bear and work hard to craft those bylaws & policies to reflect a balanced, intelligent, cautious approach to changes, always in consultation with Oak Bay residents. I'd much prefer to see Oak Bay not make the same mistakes as other towns and cities (no doubt with the best of intentions).
What are your views on how we can better enhance and protect Oak Bay?
Eric Wood Zhelka, MMSc, P.Eng, CPHIMS-CA, PMP
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