February 12, 2019
To: Mayor and Council, Bruce Anderson, Director of Building and Planning—District of Oak Bay
I am very concerned about the conclusions of the Traffic Study and the Parking Study on the OBUC web site:
OBUC Parking Study: "Based on the analysis of each proposed land use, engineers recommend 112-115 parking stalls to accommodate residents (plus visitors), church and public use. OBUC designs include 115 stalls, meeting the upper range of the recommended number."
OBUC Traffic Study: "The study finds that the project area’s main traffic impacts are the result of vehicles bypassing Oak Bay Ave. The OBUC project is not expected to be a factor in adding traffic to the area due to low vehicle ratios for affordable housing, space for bicycles and proximity of public transportation."
How can a development of 96 units, with I'm guessing at least 150 people, likely more, have no impact on local traffic? The Traffic Study by Watt Consulting Group (May 2018) makes the assumption that "Trip generation rates for affordable housing are generally lower than market rental. Studies have demonstrated that vehicle trips per household increase as income increases."
As it is uncertain how many individuals are being considered low income and how many of higher income, concluding how many trips may be generated is sheer speculation. I live on Mitchell Street and my daily observations since the recent parking restriction on Granite Street are that there has been a noticeable impact on traffic. So, combine this with the potential added traffic from the residents in the proposed development, there will be considerable impact on the use of surrounding roads as well as on street parking. The study's conclusion that there will be little impact on traffic is ludicrous.
Closer examination of The Parking Study by Watt Consulting Group submitted in May 2018, provides details of this proposal. It is based on providing 47 parking stalls for 96 units; 10 stalls for Visitor parking, as well as 15 stalls for Church programming, and 35 stalls to be leased for Municipal use.
However, Oak Bay By-Law 3540 determines the minimum parking supply for Multi-family developments @1.5 per unit. Following that, for 96 units the current requirement would be for 154 parking stalls. The Church parking lot currently has 53 spaces, while Church programming use within P-2 Zone requires 117 parking spaces. Allowing the Church to continue to have only 53 spaces as currently provided in their parking lot, the total number would be 217 parking stalls. Even requiring only 1 parking stall per unit, the total required would be 159!
The proposed 115 parking stalls allows only 47 stalls for 96 units. This recommendation is based on observations by the consultants at other 'representative Multifamily sites with countable/visible parking spaces', ie buildings with only surface parking. These observations were made on two night time occasions in February 2018 (p9), presumably when all the residents were at home. This is an extremely limited strategy to measure the parking needs of potential residents in the proposed OBUC development.
It concludes that "should there be 'overspill' it could be accommodated on Mitchell St and Brighton St which have no parking restrictions". At a minimum there would be an overspill of 44 cars! Both streets are now contending with the increased volume of traffic and parking due to the recent 2Hr 9-5 Restriction on Granite Street between Foul Bay Road and Mitchell Street. This is certainly not acceptable as a solution to the under provision of parking for this development.
Providing more parking in the proposed two level underground parking area would require deeper blasting. The Geotechnical Report provided by Ryzuk Geotechnical states that "drilling and blasting will require underpinning and/or shoring" of the Church and adjacent structures for the 7 metre maximum. The Report is based on two levels and a new Report would have to be done for going deeper. This report also indicates that vibrations could cause damage to homes close by.
Add to this the Thrift Shop hours on Friday and Saturday to both parking and traffic. I note that the Traffic Study states that the Thrift Shop will continue to operate at the proposed site, while the near residents were told that it would move off site!
My daily observation and experience seem to me to be more real and valid than the methods used by the consultants. The consultants' conclusions are certainly questionable and I hope Mayor, Councillors and staff will take a close of these studies.
To The Editor, The Times Colonist
Re: “Reform storm gathers steam,” column, Feb. 6.
Les Leyne’s column on extending freedom of information to the legislature made me smile. Anyone who has ever taken out an FOI request for a government body to provide what should be publicly available information is advised not to hold their breath while it is being prepared. When it does finally arrive (after a very long wait) 99 per cent could be redacted.
In a case where citizens in our neighbourhood tried to get some straightforward information from B.C. Housing, there was one little gem that wasn’t redacted in the FOI results we received. It involved a consultant telling B.C. Housing how to circumvent the FOI rules.
Simple: The client should not address anything to B.C. Housing. Instead, address it to a third party and mark it “confidential — contains proprietary information,” so it’s third-party confidential and thus secret.
Don’t think because you’d like to see what’s going on in our provincial government you can find out through FOI. You can’t, and when your large package of almost blank pages arrive, you will feel as Speaker Darryl Plecas described: You’ll want to vomit.
Read the original letter to the Times Colonist online here.
Most pages in response to our FOI requests look like this:
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.