Click on the image to read an online version.
Recent letters castigate the Oak Bay United Church as simply seeking financial return. That is not entrely true. Name another non government development that would create 51 per cent affordable housing units. That’s 50 suites for our Oak Bay youth or elderly to continue to live in Oak Bay.
I spoke against the Clive apartments development as I thought it too large and it did not supply any underground parking. But it has fit into the fabric of our community very well. There were no affordable units.
Churches do a lot of good in Oak Bay and in Victoria in general. Granite Street has always been a transitional street in a real estate sense. Nearby neighbours can rest assured that the quality of their lives will not be negatively impacted and the value of their homes will remain unequalled when compared to almost all other greater Victoria neighbourhoods.
Here’s a letter from another FIYBY - fine in your backyard.
Mr. Skillings lives a fair distance from the OBUC site so he can be generous with his comments.
He reassures those of us within meters of the site that our lives will not be negatively affected. How silly of us not to see that. Rubbing shoulders with 200 or more near neighbours? We’ll barely notice it. A hundred more cars squeezing down our narrow sidestreet? Won’t even register. More trees taken down, more pressure on the infrastructure. No worries.
The point is: no one questions the need for affordable housing. All we ask (have asked, are asking, will ask) is for a reduction in scale.
My initial response to this article is: what is the difference between neighbours and community? Aren’t we one and the same? Isn’t the local community going to be seriously impacted by this monolith rising up in the middle of our block?
Of course compromise is possible - but only if there is some level of respect for the people whose lives are about to be changed forever.
A modicum of respect might have been indicated by giving neighbours greater notice when the speciously-named ‘community consultations’ were being held. Less than a week’s notice was given for the December meetings. Perhaps the church didn’t realize that people’s lives are often busy that close to Christmas? Or maybe it did. Maybe compromise wasn’t sought after all.
Click on the image for the online version.
Click on the image to read the online version of the letter (Times Colonist).
Oak Bay News May 16, 2018
The second letter in this image says that Oak Bay residents only want to see homes 'like theirs' in their neighbourhood. What homes would those be? The Rowan Oaks townhouses on Granite Street? The apartments on Oak Bay Avenue?
Maybe Mr. Blood is referring to apartments like Granite House across the street from the Oak Bay United Church?
Being as the consensus, expressed again and again by the local community, is that we need affordable housing, there would probably be little resistance to a development with the set back and density of Granite House.
The issues troubling neighbours are NOT the ones surrounding affordable housing. They are serious concerns about density, size, traffic, environment, and many other challenges that the OBUC is not discussing with its neighbours.
I found this letter to the Times-Colonist while searching for other online versions of correspondence. With all this very vocal opposition, it is astonishing to think that the District of Oak Bay has accepted the application when the OBUC has failed to secure more public support. In the January 2018 meeting of the Committee of the Whole, Mayor Jensen suggested they should not return with an application without strong support.
To complain about anything when we live here in paradise appears to be churlish.
Nevertheless, when taxpayers have subsidized, year after year, tax-free church lands, and now the church wants to “develop” its land, overriding the recommendations of those same residents who have subsidized them for decades, surely the taxpaying residents have a right to be heard.
Apparently, Oak Bay United Church’s “best compromise” is to reduce its original proposal of 160 units on a 1.3-acre lot to a mere 98. I guess it’s a well-worn strategy to start huge and wear people down with subsequent minor “reductions.”
What is it about this church that refuses to listen to the local residents who have subsidized them from the year dot? Residents have stated in spades that they are not opposed to change; they support affordable rental housing that fits with the neighbourhood (in which they pay exorbitant taxes); they support a development of between 25 and 40 units; and they’ve made several sound recommendations around this proposed development.
The church states that its rents would start at less than $1,000 permonth, be self-sustaining and bring in money to operate the church. Does this really mean that a brand-new rental suite in Oak Bay would be less than $1,000 amonth? For whom? Can the Oak Bay police handle a potential increase in neighbourhood crime associated with below-market rent?
The church says its congregation is increasing — are these rental suites already allotted to churchgoers? What if it’s not a “self-sustaining” project? Does the church then decide to sell off these units at market price? (Just look at the condo/real-estate pre-buying boondoggle going on in Vancouver.)
There are already unconfirmed reports of a group of Vancouver Realtors being seen on the church property. The church has been less than forthcoming in the past, so what can we expect in the future?
The church is on record calling local residents “mean-spirited” for merely trying to maintain the ambience of their cherished neighbourhood, which they’ve worked and cared for for decades. God help the local taxpaying residents once the trees come down, the multi-storeys go up, the views are diminished, the birdlife is gone, and 120 more cars are coming and going all day and all night long. Thanks for that, United Church.
And by the way, if the congregation is truly increasing, where are they all going to park? Maybe the church should rethink that parking lot.
Times Colonist May 13, 2018
Read the online version here.
Oak Bay News, May 7 2018
As a near neighbour, I attended the OBUC open house last weekend with great interest. Having participated in earlier meetings regarding the development proposal for the church property, I was curious to see the actual final plan.
My concerns regarding size, density, parking and traffic issues this project will bring to my neighbourhood have been confirmed.
The development looks massive, standing 51 feet, which is taller than the roofline of the church. Ninety-eight units are planned on 4 floors, half under the “affordable housing” criteria and the rest not. Most of the suites are under 460 sq ft in size (1 bdrm).
In comparison, Granite House across the street is also a four-storey building with a floor area that is 3,000 sq ft larger than the proposed building and with just 60 units.
One level of underground parking was originally proposed, but the current plan calls for 113 parking spaces on 2 underground levels. That will require a great deal of drilling and blasting and I fear will still be inadequate, given the fact that it must serve the church congregation of roughly 200 people and the building tenants (maybe 120?). Where is everyone visiting going to park? Where are all the day users of the current church parking lot going to park? Where are all the workers coming to the building site for many, many months going to park?
My dream would be to see perhaps 20 or 30 affordable, 2 bdrm units built on the church land with adequate parking for congregation and tenants. I know that would not meet their “bottom line”, but their plan does not meet mine.
Read the online version here.
Here's some clear thinking on what is needed. (Oak Bay News May 7, 2018)
To read an online version of this article, click on the image.
Times Colonist May 2, 2018
I have to admit that at the start of this process I didn't clip every letter I saw. Some that I clipped got a bit crumpled in my file. Where possible, I will look for electronic versions of the letters. If you click the image, it will take you to that version if I have found one.
Note the carefully selected photo paired with this letter. Does it look like Granite Street has a traffic problem? Not at all. But any street, photographed at a chosen moment, can look as innocuous. If there were truth in reporting, the photo would have been taken on a business day. Or at a time when the church is hosting any of its much-lauded events.
At those times, parking is so scarce and tempers so short, it's only good fortune that no major accidents have happened so far.
The Oak Bay United Church has $500,000 of taxpayers' money with which to engage PR talents. Was this photo supplied by a spin doctor?
Here is one of the many crowded streets around the OBUC when the church is in use: