Oak Bay council approved a strata conversion application for a formerly non-compliant duplex on Wooton Crescent.
The owners, Glen and MaryLou Wakefield, brought the application to staff in 2019 and had council approve the two-family RD1 zoning. But with no policy on how to review a strata rezoning at the time, staff instead prepared one, which they submitted to council.
The vote to approve the strata conversion for 2506 and 2512 Wooton Cres. passed with only Coun. Eric Zhelka opposed. It showed a shift in votes from Couns. Esther Paterson and Cairine Green who voted against approving the RD1 zoning last year.
“Compliments to staff, pleased to see that you’re bringing this to council in the absence of a policy,” Zhelka said.
One of the issues that concerned council originally is that the house has a third, illegal rental suite under the side of the duplex that the Wakefields rent out. That suite will be removed during renovation.
Wooton is one of two legal duplexes in Oak Bay; the other is a purpose-built duplex on Estevan Avenue. There are an estimated 70 to 80 legal, non-conforming duplexes that predated Oak Bay’s 1986 bylaw that removed the duplex zoning.
Coun. Andrew Appleton voted in favour but noted that some of the legal non-conforming duplexes (which predate a 1986 bylaw that removed duplex zoning) are being demolished for single-family homes.
“We are in a desperate situation as far as rental accommodation and whether it’s approved or not … we need to make a bigger dent in rental stock,” Appleton said. “To my mind, the decision is whether or not a strata provides an affordable housing option. It should be a priority to retain as many of those duplexes as possible.”
Glenn Wakefield said he’d been awaiting the approval for the strata conversion before he undertakes the reno to ensure the investment would be worth it.
The approval comes with a set of conditions that must be met within 24 months.
The plan for the Wakefields is to upgrade both units to two storeys, stratify them, and then sell the other half while continuing to live in their half (where they’ve been 20 years). The building was built in 1957.
Glenn said he won’t be rushing to renovate as COVID-19 has changed the tenancy situation. But also, the Wakefields are avid sailors and Glenn is launching this week to complete the final leg of a single-handed, western circumnavigation of the world. It is his third attempt. He will apply for a building permit for the renovations and revisit the tenancy situation when he returns.
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