What about today's neighbours? to OBN Sept 14, 2018

In the Oak Bay United Church’s letter attached to their Rezoning Application dated 13 August 2018,  the developer writes : “We hope to build a solution for the pressures faced by today's community and create a legacy for the generations to come.”
Has the church forgotten that they also need to consider the pressures faced by their present neighbours and wider Oak Bay community before building this massive project which will change their neighbourhood and the face of Oak Bay forever?  Have they given thought to the stress and fear their present neighbours, many of whom have lived here for decades and are in their very late years, are experiencing?
On September 11th the church posted some technical studies on their website. The arborists report writes of the trees that will be removed.

a streetscape.jpg

The mechanical engineers description of how venting fumes and odours from the underground garage, garbage rooms, gas boilers and 96 units will be installed on the building’s roof (to drift over the neighbourhood). The geologists report that describes rock blasting and possible damage to adjacent structures during excavation and construction and the underpinning and shoring of the church and a neighbouring property that will be needed. Another warning is about seepage (already a common problem in older period homes next to the church). The report warns that noise and ground vibrations will be experienced by neighbouring residents and complaints from neighbours should be anticipated.  The church and heritage homes surrounding it were built at a time when rebar was not put into concrete foundations, putting these properties at serious risk.
If Oak Bay is serious about the welfare of  its citizens and protecting its heritage it must not accept the risk that this massive project represents.
B. G. Judson

Size, density, parking traffic concerns remain for OBUC proposal

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.

Monica Fiederer
Oak Bay

Read the online version here.

Kudos to residents - Oak Bay News January 20, 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.

Time to build community - OBN January 5, 2018

From the Oak Bay News

One must marvel at Oak Bay United Church’s ability to garner positive press for their proposed development. Clearly the church or the consultants hired with the $500,000 loan from BC Housing Management, are supremely skilled in the art of controlling the message. Getting front page coverage of their proposal in the Times Colonist and the Oak Bay News in the week between Christmas and the New Year was brilliant. What better time to build support for their project when people are at their most generous and thinking of others less fortunate. Also a great time to paint your neighbours as wealthy, uncaring, and unwilling to accept change in their neighbourhood.

But has the church been too cute by half?

People are beginning to read that the neighbours have indeed been willing to work with the church and its consultants to create a proposal that they would support. Contrary to statements made the neighbours are not opposed to affordable housing in their neighbourhood.

So why the disconnect between views as to what is happening. Was the engagement and consultation process adequate and well received by the neighbours? Apparently not. Rather than running to the press in their effort to control the message why is the church not expending effort to bring the neighbours on side.

Seems to me it is time for the church, to hire an unbiased facilitator to establish a framework for the church and its neighbours to develop a plan that meets the needs of both parties. Failure to do so rests entirely with the church as the proponent of a large- scale development in an established neighbourhood.

Photo from the Oak Bay News January 5, 2018

Photo from the Oak Bay News January 5, 2018

Otherwise what is currently shaping up is a win/lose scenario and either side could be the loser. Time to get back to building consensus and community.

Wayne Randall

Oak Bay

You can read this letter online here