A review of the Oak Bay’s Official Community Plan (OCP) shows the Oak Bay United Church’s (OBUC) mega project fails to conform in many aspects
The OBUC contend their overdevelopment is consistent with the OCP For example, on page 4 of the OBUC ‘Neighbourhood Housing Project Rezoning Application’ dated 3rd August, 2018 they state: “We consider the proposal consistent with the Official Community Plan's provision to develop infill sites for community purposes where feasible, and addresses multiple other OCP provisions”.
For a full copy of the 210+ page OCP see https://www.oakbay.ca/municipal-services/planning/official-community-plan.
We, the neighbours, contend that Rezoning Application fails to conform is so many aspects that the development should be sent back to the developers for a complete overhaul, starting with sincere and meaningful community consultation. The project does not conform to the OCP, when the OCP is considered in its entirety.
The OBUC is situated south of the demarcation line, per Schedule B of the OCP between Established Neighbourhoods to the south and Multi Unit Residential zones to the north. It is sited on little more than an acre of land amongst one and two storey homes, many of them built during the heritage era predating World War One.
The OBUC developers’ proposal is contingent first and foremost on obtaining a change in zoning. Read about that request here: Problems With the Development.
The application seeks to maintain the existing church structure and create some 3000 sq. ft. of new church space, while leaving less than an acre available for a mega apartment block project.
The OBUC’s plan would convert most of its land, currently with little commercial value, to property giving an annual cash flow worth millions over time.
The proposal would not only change the character of its site but drastically impact its neighbours. Key to the success of this scheme is the selective interpretation of the affordable housing provisions of the OCP. The OBUC appears to be convinced that by hijacking the term affordable and taking advantage of a housing shortage in Victoria, it will be given license to radically change the zoning of its Granite Street property.
An Overview of the OBUC Mega Project & the OCP
The OCP contains provisions whereby a building that blends into the neighbourhood, scale and design wise, and still provides affordable housing, can be accommodated.
Such a building should be a positive addition to the OBUC, the immediate community and to Oak Bay in general. The neighbourhood was very keen on achieving this end. We, the neighbours, attempted to work with the developers to find the right solution from the outset. However, the rezoning application, as submitted by the developers, has ignored nearly everything the community suggested.
1. The density increase is drastically out of scale for the area. It proposes 96 apartments in one building on the less than an acre of land available for this project. Research shows that the average apartment density for Oak Bay apartments is around 50 units per acre. That doesn’t bring into consideration the fact that the OBUC is in a single-family home neighbourhood. The Civic Feasibility Study submitted as part of the rezoning application estimates there could be between 176 and 220 people living in this project. Using the same methodology an average Oak Bay apartment would only have 92 - 115 people living in the same area.
Considering that the OBUC is situated in a single-family area and that all of its property might be subdivided into ten lots, this same area would only house thirty to forty residents if the established zoning was respected. While the developers are relying on floor area ratios (FAR) to indicate that the structure is not too dense when compared to other apartments, it is disingenuous to argue this point without mentioning the other zoning requirement of apartment unit size. Oak Bay requires a one-bedroom unit to be a minimum of 605 sq.ft., yet the proposed development’s one-bedroom unit range from 398 to 484 sq. ft. Four of the proposed two-bedroom units are less than the one bedroom minimum.
2. The parking provided is substantially lower than the Oak Bay average with only 53 parking stalls for the 96 units along with only 50 stalls for church use. This does not even come close to present zoning requirements of any zone and requires a drastic variance. Regardless of the developers’ erroneous arguments about changing trends in car ownership, the low number of parking stalls will lead to a traffic and parking problems in an already congested neighbourhood.
3. The current design of the building in no way complements the surrounding early 20th century homes and has been referred to as the beast with a hodge podge of design elements which overwhelms and dwarfs the church building itself.
4. No effort has been made to respect the demarcation line between a transition Multi Unit Residential area and the Established Neighbourhoods area that is represented by Granite Street.
5. The developers have repeatedly stated that a smaller, more appropriate building would not be economically feasible for the owners. What would constitute economic feasibility has not been disclosed although it has been possible to extrapolate some ideas based on statements by the OBUC personnel.
Regardless, it is not up to the District of Oak Bay to accommodate the myriad of financial goals of the many developers who may want to build here. All projects should be only judged on land use and suitability criteria only.
So, while the neighbours do not believe the project as presented meets the requirements of the OCP, they do recognize the need for affordable housing. They were prepared to work with the developers in finding a suitable compromise that would fit into the neighbourhood and meet the spirit of the OCP.
Rather than establish a working collaborative relationship, the developers have not yet engaged with their neighbours in a meaningful way. Instead they chose, and continue to choose, to ignore local concerns and feedback while dividing the community and characterizing all opposition as minimal, misinformed, and inconsequential. The developers’ disregard of legitimate community input shows a willingness to twist things to their purposes in the planning stage and to pick and choose which rules they comply with.
If they are this indifferent and non-compliant before the application has been approved, it is logical to assume their attitude will deteriorate if given a green light?
Consequently, the neighbours urge the Council to reject this proposal and have the developers go back to the community. They should follow the directive given to Kim Fowler, consultant to the OBUC, in the January 15, 2018 Committee of the Whole meeting.
Ms Fowler was told the developers should:
· Work with the community,
· Develop an application that has neighbourhood support,
· Come back with positive public input, and
· Find a design that everyone supports.
Analysis of Pertinent Official Community Plan Provisions
A review of the Official Community Plan (below) indicates that the OBUC believes it has found a way to turn its land into an annual cash flow. The OCP allows density to be increased from what is permissible to allow for some Multi Residential Units if there are substantial Public Amenities provided. The OCP includes a series of Community Frameworks that are numbered CF1 to CF10 (see below). CF5, 6 and 7 allow for an increase as “affordable housing” is defined as a public amenity. As the OBUC is proposing some affordable housing, in conjunction with redevelopment of other OBUC buildings, a plan may qualify. It is to what extent and how large and dense the development in relation to the size of land, and the character of the neighbourhood that the OBUC is sited that is in contention.
It appears that the present property will be developed in one way or another as the OBUC has indicated its current operating model is unsustainable.
Although the application is made under a widely lauded banner of ‘affordable housing,’ what the developers really wants is to create a major income stream. They want an apartment building that will not just break even but will fund the majority of operating costs of the OBUC, starting with a significant ground rental, and ending with all the profits being funnelled to the OBUC vis a vis a not-for-profit housing society. This management organization would likely have the same board as the OBUC, which would allow control of the asset while providing access to the revenue. The rental from the units will not only pay the ground rent and repay the loan required to cover the cost of their apartments and parking spaces, but also repay the cost of the new 3,000+ sq. ft. “Church Community Space” and the cost of putting the 50 church use parking spaces under ground
The OBUC has indicated that it wants to appeal to young working tenants who may not be able to afford other forms of residency in Oak Bay. Therefore, to generate enough income to suit the OBUC’s financial ambitions, there will have to be many small units and the project built as cheaply as possible. The larger the number of units per square foot of land and the cheaper the build, theoretically the more profitable the project will be.
While some provisions of the Oak Bay Official Community Plan seem to encourage affordable housing projects, it is hard to believe that it was envisioned all other provisions of the OCP would be ignored. There are so many other provisions that this mega development would upset that Oak Bay must carefully balance the conflicting goals and impacts that such a project would have. If a poorly built, poorly designed and poorly managed mega project is allowed, so many precedents will be established, and problems created. that it would be a major headache for all of Oak Bay.
There are enough tools within the OCP that Oak Bay can use to manage this development. Let’s reflect some of the other goals and values of the Official Community Plan The following is an analysis of parts of the OCP. Just as the OBUC have been very selective in identifying parts of the OCP that support their development, we have only extracted those parts of the OCP that we believe the development contradicts or violates. As stated above the OCP is over 200 pages long and to repeat the whole document would be extreme
Our comments on the OCP are in italics
4.1.1 The Land Use Framework objectives of the OCP are as follows:
1. Respect and enhance the character and identity of neighbourhoods, commercial areas, and other special locations within Oak Bay
The block that the OBUC is on is an Established Neighbourhood which is low density for all the areas of the block outside the OBUC lot, which is a Community Institutional area. This block is an almost intact area of early 20th century homes and streetscape which have all been very well maintained and a walk around this area is like going back into history. The redevelopment would effectively allow for the crossover of a clear obvious boundary of a transitional zoned Multi Unit Residential area to an Established Neighbourhood area. The intrusiveness of the mega project on the adjacent properties, along with no obvious boundary, would undoubtedly put pressure on neighbourhood for eventual conversion to Multi Unit Residential zone.
4.1.2 Land Use Policies
CF1 Definition of areas 1 – 10. The only one relevant to the site is
9. The Community Institutional designation on Schedule B consists of public and private institutions, including recreation centres, schools, faith-based facilities, and government buildings. These facilities offer unique services and social opportunities. Some have important landscapes that contribute to the community’s character or recreation opportunities. (the Rezoning Application wants to change this location to a hybrid of Multi Unit Residential designation and Community Institutional designation)
CF2 Use the built form, characteristics, land uses and density in Figure 4.1 to guide land use planning and management in Oak Bay. The floor area ratios are based on the existing zoning. Figure 4.1 I too detailed to repeat here, but the main points are:
In multi residential 3 to 8 stories Floor Area Ratio 0.75:1 up to 1.5:1 ratio, depending on zoning. (The zones OBUC are referencing have a FAR of 1:1. See below for OBUC proposal)
Established Neighbourhoods, limit 2 stories and 0.4:1 floor area ratio. The site borders Established Neighbourhoods.
Community Institution. This site’s classification -Restricted to 3 stories and a FAR of 1:1. The church building and the proposed development have a ratio of 1.23:1. Combined they have 23% too much floor space. The proposed tenement is 4 ½ stories tall.
Floor area ratio (FAR), also known in some communities as floor space ratio (FSR), is the ratio of a building›s total floor area (Gross Floor Area) to the size of the piece of land upon which it is built.
CF3 Increases in height and density may be considered where they further the goals and objectives of this plan, and/or based on the provision of community amenities. (The OBUC is hanging a lot of its hopes on this clause.)
CF5 Consider variations to the provision of the Land use Framework, including built form and density, without requiring an OCP amendment in circumstances including but not limited to the following:
· achieve heritage conservation objectives
· where significant community amenity contributions are provided
(The OBUC Rezoning Application is using this clause.)
4.2 Built Environment
· Retaining our unique character
· Supporting social gathering
· Green and sustainable buildings
· Respecting our Neighbours
(in the preamble to 4.2.1 there is mentioned that Municipalities can regulate the build environment through Development Permit Areas (DPAs) that include guidelines for development form and character in the OCP, and through the Zoning Bylaw. DPA design guidelines can be provided for intensive residential development, including multi-unit and compact single detached housing (but not for low density single detached houses) and for commercial, mixed use, and industrial projects (see Section 8.3 Built Environment Development Permit Areas)
The regulatory framework for Oak Bay’s Zoning Bylaw was established in 1986 and the regulations related to the built environment have not been reviewed in a comprehensive manner since that time. The result is that these tools and regulations need revision to meet the changing needs of the community.
Also, the side bar on Community Survey Input indicates widespread belief that quality architecture should prevail in any new or renovated building, whether single detached houses, townhouse, apartments or commercial development. The main concerns of many residents are the bulk of the building, the miniscule size of the apartments, the details of design, and lack of setbacks.
If a poorly undertaken project is approved, one which is not in keeping with Oak Bay’s unique character (e.g. the early 20th century styles shared by the neighbours of this adjoining properties) then the intention of the OCP is being ignored. Additionally, neighbourhood concern over size and scope has neither been acknowledged nor addressed by the developers.
The actual articulated built environment objectives of the OCP encourage developers to respect and enhance sense of place through sensitive and innovative response to existing form and character and to encourage the conservation and stewardship of streetscapes and neighbourhood character. A massive project which multiplies the number of residential units on this block cannot in any reasonable view be said to encourage the conservation and stewardship and being sensitive to the surrounding neighbourhood. There was mention in the OCP that there is a widespread belief by residents that any project brought forward should be of quality design and built.
4.2.1 The built environment objectives of the OCP are as follows:
1.Encourage all new development to respect and enhance Oak Bay unique “sense of Place” through sensitive and innovative response to existing form and character and to promote residents’ health and well being
How can the existing neighbours feel a sense of place if there is such a drastic proposal to change their neighbourhood?
Most of the residents bought into an established neighbourhood with a small community church. With a few vague provisions added to the OCP, that most people thought the development would reflect had already occurred with the Public Library. A mega project such has been proposed that would change the character forever of the neighbourhood. Did the drafters of the OCP really intend for such drastic changes? We do not believe that was the intention, as such a move would represent a very reprehensible action, designed to fool the public.
4.Encourage the conservation and stewardship of street scapes and neighbourhood character including historic building and gardens and significant landscape features.
The Built Environment Policies developed in the plan provide guidance to achieve these objectives. While one of the results of the OBUC’s project would be help maintain its existing church. the cost to the neighbourhood in character and streetscape would be enormous and irreversible.
The Rowan Oaks development represents a true transition model as the townhouses there transition the commercial and large multi residential areas on the north of Granite St to the Established Neighbourhood areas to the south.
The developers’ model is nothing like this. It is an abrupt departure from current density and design, an incongruous monolith. It doesn’t offer transition; it proposes imposition of an ugly massive structure that will erode the diminishing urban forest while exacerbating existing problems with traffic, parking, and infrastructure demands.
In addition, the current proposal would require a massive 23-foot pit to allow for a two-storey underground parkade. The blasting required through solid rock would put the neighbours’ old homes at risk. Of the twelve homes on the same block as the church, eleven of them were built before 1950. Of these seven, including a heritage designated home, were built before World War I. These buildings were built before many of the modern techniques of building such as re-bar in the cement foundations and are susceptible to lasting damage. Even the OBUC’s consultant warns of this and has recommended the old church, and one of the neighbours be underpinned to prevent damage. Other engineers, not reporting for the OBUC, have even cautioned that, depending on the age of the surrounding buildings and how well the blasting is performed, there may be risk of structural and cosmetic damage to more than just two buildings. There is also the danger of carbon monoxide entering surrounding properties through fissures in the rocks.
The imposition of a mega apartment building in an old neighbourhood with no obvious boundary between it and its neighbours along with the intrusiveness of the structure onto the adjacent homes, would create an environment prone to redevelopment pressure. Consequently, a very old heritage era neighbourhood could be lost to Oak Bay forever.
4.2.2 The built environment policies of the OCP are as follows:
BE1 Support Development and Redevelopment that responds to unique social, cultural, character of each neighbourhood
BE2 Encourage the conservation of streetscape character and measures to protect and enhance it through development projects.
BE5 Support the conservation and rehab of existing heritage and character buildings
The section pertaining to Housing, Community Health and Resilience touches on a recurring theme, that of retaining neighbourhood character. This is one of the important mission statements as outlined below. In the preamble, there is some overall background as to what constitutes affordable and inclusive housing. It recognized that good design and construction would help to offset concerns about cheap housing, but design standards must be balanced with the overall cost of the end product.
There is a summary in this section that there is recognition that as property values continue to rise, it becomes ever more difficult to meet the housing needs of everyone who would like to live in a community. This will always be the difficult question for decision-makers: can everyone who wants to live in Oak Bay be accommodated?
4.3 Housing, community health and resilience
Housing options to reflect changing needs of community members throughout their lives
· Retaining neighbourhood character
· Attracting more people and more diversity
· Lowering average housing cost
4.3.1 Housing Objectives
1.Support a modest expansion of housing within Oak Bay while addressing concerns such as tree protection, traffic, noise, effects on other properties, and neighbourhood character.
2. Recognize and communicate to the public that in a sustainable community, housing options should be available to meet housing needs.
3. Encourage and support more diverse housing options that respond to needs as they change over time, including affordable and inclusive housing.
4. Develop new housing that integrates with the character of existing neighbourhoods
6. Reduce the number of unregulated residential units and increase the range of regulated housing options in established neighbourhoods
7. Encourage and support the upgrading and retrofitting of older and heritage houses
This important subsection on housing states the objectives that are to be achieved. While there is support for housing options that include affordable housing, there is only support for a modest expansion. The critical issues of tree protection, noise, effects on other properties and neighbourhood character must be addressed. The projects should integrate with the existing neighbourhood and not unduly impact other properties.
A poorly implemented project would impact negatively on the neighbourhood as a whole. It would possibly trigger the accelerated redevelopment pressure to a fully zoned multi-unit residential area. There would be little incentive to encourage maintaining the classic period houses if the precedent is been set that the neighbourhood is to transition to a Multi Unit Residential neighbourhood.
The project is massive enough to overwhelm the surrounding neighbours and substantial increase density in a manner that the adjacent strips of period homes (including a heritage designated home) along Victoria Ave. and Brighton left behind would become obvious transition zones. The logic employed in the development of the Rowan Oaks townhouses could just as easily apply to this strip of homes and they could become subject to redevelopment to town homes in the future.
4.3.2 The housing policies of the OCP are as follows:
H2 Prepare a Housing Strategy, identifying opportunities to encourage and support affordable and special needs housing, including housing options for the community.
Affordable and Inclusive Housing
H3 Promote a coordinated approach to addressing housing issues and collaborate with other local and senior governments, Songhees and Esquimalt Nations, community groups, non-profit organizations, faith-based groups, and the private sector to plan, secure funding, and provide affordable and inclusive housing.
H4 Support innovative approaches to creating affordable and inclusive housing including market rental housing agreements, co-housing, other forms of shared ownership, inclusion of affordable/special needs units in multi-unit developments, and mixed market and non-market projects.
H8 Encourage the development of rental housing, including identified units within multi unit housing, potentially in cooperation with the Capital Region Housing Corporation
Multi Unit Residential
H17 Establish a Multi Unit Residential Development Permit Area (Schedule G) to regulate the form and character of Multi Unit Residential Development.
This has NOT been done by the District of Oak Bay and the OBUC site is NOT in a proposed MURD DPA on Schedule G.
H18 Encourage increases in the number of housing units, potentially through smaller units, on Multi Unit Residential redevelopment projects.
Note POTENTIALLY, not necessarily, through smaller units. Nor does it say smaller than current zoning requirements. They are referring to developments like The Hamilton at 2277 Oak Bay Avenue where 2-bedroom apartments are 1,600+ sq. ft., more than twice the minimum of 754 sq. ft. required by zoning.
H19 Consider a limited expansion of Multi Unit Residential areas, beyond the areas designated as Multi Unit Residential on Schedule B of this OCP, considering locations such as along arterial and collector roads, near transit, and near other Multi Unit Residential buildings, existing commercial areas, and/or recreation facilities. Encourage townhouses as a transition in locations that are between mixed use areas and established neighbourhoods.
The OBUC site is NOT on an arterial and NEITHER is it on collector roads. Both Granite St & Mitchell St are “Local” roads per Schedule C of OCP.
Townhouses could certainly apply to this site, and the neighbours have been recommending townhouses as a possible solution since the start. See Rowan Oaks an excellent example
General Comments: These policies give guidance of what affordable housing projects should look like:
First of all, there is a policy that Oak Bay prepare a Housing Strategy which would give a more detailed blueprint as to what affordable housing along with all other housing should be like. This has not yet been undertaken so this OBUC development proposal takes on added significance as it has the potential to set precedents that will have ramifications on all future strategies that will affect all Oak Bay.
There is a host of suggestions contained in the other policies, such as partnering with Capital Regional Housing Corp to presumably provide arm’s-length management, encourage partial affordable unit percentage in mixed market, non-market projects, size recommendations and other suggestions. There is a policy that any MURD change should be subject to a MURD developmental permit area which would require Section 8.3.2 adherence (see below).
There is suggestion that any MURD zoning changes, if they are in a transitional area, should consist of townhouses to help transition from MURD/Commercial areas to established neighbourhoods. Certainly, if the OBUC property is allowed to proceed then a new transitional area between Granite and Brighton would have developed and townhouses could be a good fit.
If the project is too massive as mentioned above the transition zones will be pushed further into the established neighbourhood zone. The decisions made are very important here as they will impact as precedents when the H2 Housing Strategy is developed. This strategy will give specific guidance as to what is acceptable in the context of an already developed neighbourhood.
Some unanswered questions remaining are:
· How should populations be targeted?
· How should projects be managed?
· How should projects be introduced into the neighbourhoods?
· How much should economics overshadow other aspects of the OCP?
· Parking matters, such as providing no or little parking and hoping that occupants will abandon private cars?
· Who is responsible for projects if the developers are unable to complete it?
The fact remains: whatever occurs on this special institutional use land will set precedents for future developments.
The OBUC developers’ strategy has been first to bring BC Housing on board. Months of secretive work secured a large advance (more than half a million dollars) of public money. Once funding was in place, the plan for the site was finally shared with the local residents.
A few perfunctory neighbourhood consultations were conducted. Simultaneously, the developers began a wide public relations campaign through press and social media in an effort to silence dissent and pressure the Oak Bay Mayor and Council into fast tracking the application.
The neighbours have advocated a neutral mediator be engaged to resolve the most contentious issues in open and fair negotiations involving neighbours, elected representatives, and the developers. When a compromise has been determined, then B C Housing should be informed so it may determine if it will continue to support the revised project.
4.5 Community Institutional and Social Well Being
The next Section pertinent to the OBUC deals with Community Institutional and Social Well Being. The preamble recognizes the disintegration of faith-based organizations:
In the Overview to the objectives the slow erosion of faith-based organizations is recognized along with the knowledge that they will seek alternative options for their land such as multi-unit residential developments.
In 2013, a faith-based publication reported that church attendance in Canada was in a steady decline. This section recognizes that reality. The OBUC’s congregation is shrinking to the point that it already struggles to fund the church’s regular commitments.
OBUC’s need to find ways to offset its decline should not give it license to avoid the major safeguards and provisions of the OCP. The OBUC’s financial woes should NOT drive the District of Oak Bay to permit a totally inappropriate project in this location.
4.5.1 Community Institutional and social well being objectives
The subsection dealing with objectives has 9 points. Objectives 1 – 8 do not address the affordability issue. The only one that addresses this project is 9 which emphasis heritage.
9. Reinforce Oak Bay’s unique community identity by strengthening policies on heritage per the Oak Bay Heritage Plan
4.5.2 The Community Institutional and Social Well-Being policies of the OCP are as follows:
The subsection 4.5.2 deals with policies and the one of concern is CIS3 that appears to allow for a Multi Unit Residential development provided there is no hindrance to the primary institutional use. The OBUC’s project would effectively separate most of its land from church use. So while this land would house a “deemed” public amenity it would no longer be useful for the primary institutional use of a church. This subsection spells out that if this does happen then the area so allowed would become a MURD DPA (Development Permit Area). The project would then be subject Section 8 oversight (below).
CIS3 Consider Multi Unit Residential developments on institutional properties where this will not prevent or hinder the primary institutional use, and where this occurs, amend the OCP designation to Multi Unit Residential for this portion of the property, which will also designate the site as a Multi Unit Residential DPA. (which would mean that the building can be regulated. see 4.2 above for more detail via zoning)
The next important section that may impact on the OBUC Project is regarding Heritage. There is a push by Oak Bay to protect heritage, both natural and historic. Conservation and rehab of historic built environment is an important part of the mission statement of this Section.
Heritage is summed up in the OCP as
· Protecting the natural heritage landscape
· Conservation and rehabilitation of historic built environment
· Social values of retaining history
· Attraction of residents and tourists who appreciate heritage
4.7.1 The heritage objectives of the OCP are as follows:
1. Conserve Oak Bay’s history and heritage.
2. Conserve established neighbourhoods and streetscapes.
3. Conserve natural landscapes.
4. Celebrate Oak Bay’s unique history.
5. Support the recommendations of the 2013 Oak Bay Heritage Plan.
The importance of conserving Oak Bay’s heritage is emphasized in the objective subsection especially the first two points. Now it is important to accept that part of the OBUC’s plan is to provide funds for its ongoing operation and presumably that would entail the maintenance of its old church building. However, as the OBUC’s massive project would alter the character of the whole block and could impact negatively on the strip of period homes that occupy the same block as the OBUC. The present proposal is so intrusive on the adjacent properties and there is no obvious boundary between the OBUC and its neighbours the whole block would be under considerable redevelopment pressure.
The OBUC is situated in a very old neighbourhood of Oak Bay. The neighbours have maintained the surrounding heritage-era homes conscientiously, not only for themselves, but as a legacy for future generations.
The proposed ungainly apartment block, along with the dramatically increased density, minimal parking, and increased traffic would precipitate a loss of character. It could precipitate many more ambitious projects, using this variation to housing and buildings standards as a precedent.
This is not just a conflict between neighbours over design elements but a fundamental change to the character of a whole neighbourhood. If heritage is important to Oak Bay this aspect alone should send the developers back to the drawing board.
4.7.2 The heritage policies of the OCP are as follows:
H.R.1 Support the retention of heritage and character houses and other buildings through the following measures (4 measures listed)
HR3 Identify neighbourhoods and streetscapes that warrant protection, and identify tools to protect these as redevelopment takes place.
The actual heritage policies are somewhat vague but do speak to supporting the retention of character houses and other building so might factor in when the planners are assessing the project.
8.3 Built Environment Development Permit Areas
Part of the Introduction reads: The intent of the built environment guidelines is to set sufficient limits to exclude new projects that are obviously out of character with Oak Bay (e.g., large grey concrete walls with no windows or detailing), and to be flexible enough to allow creative designs that borrow enough characteristics of established neighbourhoods to blend with the diversity that already exists. The guidelines will enable successful projects that encompass innovation, environmental practices, and features that meet the needs of existing and future residents.
8.3.2 Multi Unit Residential Development Permit Areas
Areas designated Multi Unit Residential on Schedule G: Multi Unit Residential Development Permit Area (DPA) are designated Multi Unit Residential Development Permit Areas (DPAs).
The OBUC site is NOT a MURD DPA on Schedule G
Multi Unit Residential development in Oak Bay will provide affordable and inclusive housing options in transition areas between commercial areas and established neighbourhoods, and through the redevelopment of existing multi-unit residential properties. This DPA provides guidelines to promote development that reflects Oak Bay’s unique character while increasing density. This will strengthen Oak Bay as a complete community, increasing support for local shops and services, and enhancing the viability of active transportation and public transit.
Note: The south side of Granite Street is not a transition zone but belongs to the Established Neighbourhood zone as clearly outlined on Schedule B. The Community Institutional zoning of the OBUC’s land was never intended to be a transition zone. The OBUC's aggressive interpretation of the affordable housing provisions provides a weak argument for such a radical change to that zoning.
The objectives of the Multi-unit Residential Development Permit Area are to promote developments and redevelopments that accomplish the following:
2. respect neighbourhood character and streetscapes (project fails as its financial goals prohibit its ability to comply)
3. provide housing diversity to meet the changing needs of residents throughout their life cycle, including the needs of those with physical and developmental disabilities (micro apartments, geared toward a younger demographic, are conducive to high turnover)
6. consider the impact of new construction on adjacent residents (as shown by the drone shots here, this project compromises the privacy of many neighbours’ yards. The massive blasting will put many adjacent heritage-era houses at risk)
.6 Site Planning and Building Guidelines
1. Design and build new development to contribute to the cohesion, visual identity and the quality of streetscapes, particularly when adjacent and nearby buildings are similar to each other in scale, proportion, rhythm, and pattern, per the following design measures:
· incorporate building elements that are complementary, such as street walls, façade rhythm, and horizontal cornice lines (Project fails as it does not attempt to blend in with the early 20th Century designs, citing financial viability issues.).
· add interest to the streetscape through variation is building height, roof-lines and massing (The proposed projects fails as it is one monolithic, 4-storey block with a flat top and incongruous pop-out dormers among the one and two-storey houses.)
2. Locate and design the building massing to:
· provide a transition between the form, character and scale of the surrounding neighbourhood and the character of commercial areas or arterial and collector roads that are close to or adjacent to the property being developed. (Project fails as this building is bigger and denser than any buildings north of Granite Street. Also, it butts against single-family homes. A true transition form is the Rowan Oaks townhouse complex which is larger and denser than the neighbourhood to the south but smaller than the multi-unit buildings to the north. No arterial or collector roads are adjacent to the property)
· provide variations in height, massing and rooflines on larger building to create visual interest (Project fails as it is a single, L-shaped building.)
· respect the privacy of adjacent properties. (as shown by the drone shots here, this project compromises the privacy of many neighbours’ yards.)
· limit shadowing of public outdoor use areas and adjacent residential properties. (Project fails as it only shows shadowing to 3:00 PM when it’s obvious the shade pattern from a four-storey structure built close to homes will cast a longer shadow at different times of the year.)
.7 Landscape Guidelines
1.Design the site layout and building location to:
· retain and conserve as much natural vegetation, rock outcrops …, including Garry Oaks, other large trees, …. (a massive, healthy, Garry Oak will be destroyed, along with an interesting Arbutus)
· respect the existing topography, minimizing the need for cut and fill, major blasting, or tall retaining walls (major blasting – 7+ metres / 23+ feet will be required and a 2 metre / 6.6 foot retaining wall will be replaced on the property)
4. Design the landscape to retain, and if possible to increase, the tree canopy on the site (see comment above about Garry Oak and Arbutus to be removed)
8. Screen surface parking areas and service areas where necessary to reduce impacts on neighbouring residences and the public realm. (Cars exiting the parking garage will shine their headlights directly into Granite House living areas.)
We, the neighbours, contend that Rezoning Application fails to conform is so many aspects that the development should be sent back to the developers for a complete overhaul, starting with sincere and meaningful community consultation. The project does not conform to the OCP, when the OCP is considered in its entirety.