The public engagement portion of Oak Bay’s secondary suites study continues with an upcoming open house.
Staff will host the open house Thursday, April 25, from 4:30 to 7 p.m. in the Sports View Lounge at Oak Bay Recreation Centre.
“I hope we get a really good attendance from all parts of the community to shape the features of this program and to ensure it’s the right fit for Oak bay,” said Coun. Tara Ney, who helped start the study.
The open house will help inform Oak Bay’s ongoing secondary suites study and will ask residents about floor area, parking, occupancy, inspection and licensing. In particular, staff are seeking to know if residents are already living in a secondary suite, own a secondary suite, or would like to have a secondary suite. Even sharing whether or not you live on a street with a secondary suite(s) can be helpful.
From April 25 until May 10, Oak Bay will also host an online questionnaire where the public can contribute their input.
While it’s believed there are plenty of existing secondary suites in Oak Bay there’s no guessing how many exist as it’s not a number that the city, or B.C. Assessment Authority, can track until its legalized, said BCAA spokesperson Tim Morrison. Even then it would only be the licensed (or registered) suites that would be counted.
Between 2006 and 2017 Victoria registered 448 suites and in 2017 awarded building permits for 48 secondary suite units and six garden suites. Saanich, meanwhile, created secondary suite licensing in the past decade. It was done in a two-stage process, south and north of McKenzie Avenue. Before legalization it was estimated Saanich had 9,000 secondary suites. Since Saanich instituted regulations in 2011 there have been 437 secondary suites permits issued.
Oak Bay’s official community plan identifies secondary suites as an item to study and consider implementing as part of the necessary infill to build a more compact Oak Bay community. Seventy-eight per cent of surveyed residents wanted to “regulate secondary suites and set standards related to health and safety, fees, parking, owner occupancy, etc.”
The OCP also notes secondary suites provide affordable accommodations for post-secondary students “and the suites help homeowners, particularly the elderly on fixed incomes, to bear the high cost of owning single detached houses.”
The most important thing right now is to encourage the highest level of participation for the open house and the survey, Ney said.
“There’s a lot to consider, what people think about parking, how will we enforce it, how big they can be compared to lot size, and how much will it cost to administrate licenses,” Ney said.
The councillor believes a lot of people would like to see that this is a cost neutral thing, people will pay a fee towards the administration and enforcement of the secondary suites.
“We also don’t know whether we would want to start with a pilot, or roll it out in certain areas, but we do know it needs to by tailor made for Oak Bay,” Ney said.