Click on the article to read an online version of this letter:
Click on the image for an online version of Mr. Skillings’s letter.
Mr. Skillings feels the Oak Bay United Church has been shabbily treated? What does he call it when a powerful management team, backed with public money, and political muscle, develops a proposal for a precedent-setting project while telling its neighbours they are working with a blank sheet of paper?
Mr Blood - we could talk to the church board for all the good it would do. The management / development team has control of the project now. The church is the figurehead.
Click on the image to read an online version.
Click on the image for the online version.
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.
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: