A question from L Fehr

This comment was left on my main page, so I thought I would answer it here:


I would really like you to respond either “yes” or “no” to this question, as it is one of the most important considerations, to me, when deciding who to vote for.

Are you in favour of legalising secondary suites in Oak Bay?

Thank you.

My answer is yes. Why? Because I believe that legalizing secondary suites is acknowledging a fact that already exists, I believe it can help protect the streetscape and heritage homes, and any small issues can dealt with via bylaws and enforcement.

Notes from the second All Candidates meeting

The Community Association of Oak Bay and the North Henderson Resi9dents Association jointly hosted the second and final all candidates meeting here in Oak Bay. Again, I took notes but I know I missed a few questions:

  • Oak bay lodge
  • Bowker creek
  • 4 story limit
  • Amalgamation
  • Oak Bay lodge delay
  • Source of campaign funds, specifically developers
  • Secondary suites
  • Communication
  • Secondary suites committee
  • Role of council
  • Coordination of municipalities
  • Oak Bay lodge parking
  • Deer


One All Candidates done, one to come

Well, one all candidates is done. Speaking last was the distinct advantage of getting to listen to everybody else, but you do get to stew in your own nervousness for over 20 minutes while everybody else talks. Jason Ross of ModernDemocracy.ca was there again with his video cameras, which was excellent, so those you following at home can see. I tried collect all the questions I could while they came up, and I think I managed to get most of them:

  • Child care – How are you going to provide more spots?
  • Secondary suites
  • Traffic on the avenue – How are you going to deal with heavy traffic on the avenue and surrounding residential streets
  • Young families – How do you attract more to Oak Bay
  • Affordable housing – How to you provide more
  • Town hall meetings – Why haven’t we had more?
  • Oak bay lodge
  • Smart meters, and health
  • Deer issue – What is Oak Bay and the CRD doing about it?
  • Community engagement young families – How do you engage young families in the community
  • CRD accountability
  • Sewage infrastructure
  • P3’s water/sewage – Do you support keeping water and sewage infrastructure and operation public
  • Composting -When is it coming to the rest of Oak Bay?

Thanks to everybody that came out. If you missed it, we have another opportunity next Tuesday, November 7th, 7-9pm, at Emmanuel Baptist Church. Thanks to the North Henderson Residents Association and the Community Association of Oak Bay for hosting these.

UVic Students’ Society Municipal Candidate Survey

Dear Candidate,

On behalf of the over 17,000 undergraduate students at the University of Victoria, we are sending you this survey comprised of questions that are hot-button municipal issues on our campus. We invite you to fill out this survey and return it to us by Sunday October 30th at the latest. We will disseminate the information provided to students and youth in Greater Victoria. Thank you for your participation and assistance engaging students with municipal issues! Feel free to attach your answers on a separate page. If you have any questions, please feel free to contact us.

Dylan Sherlock

Director of Finance and Operations
University of Victoria Students’ Society

What will you do to increase affordable housing for students in your municipality?
To help provide more housing for students and seniors, I would legalize secondary suites and laneway houses. Also, I would work with other municipalities and seniors levels of government to get funding restored to help build new apartment buildings and student residences at UVIc and Camosun.

What are your priorities for public transit, and how do students fit into these priorities?
I want to see the Victoria Regional Rapid Transit project, LRT out to the West Shore, under construction within the next three years. I would work with BC Transit to speed buses up using stop reduction and signal prioritization on their busy routes, especially those into UVic. I would also work with UVic and the provincial government to get a new transit exchange built at UVic, as the current exchange is at capacity. Both of these will help students travel faster and easier to campus.

What are the solutions to congestion and lack of capacity in the public transportation system?
Part of the solution is moving the buses faster, through signal prioritzation, but there are other steps that can be taken. Those
include adding more buses on busy routes and building a new transit exchange at UVic. All of these require the provincial or federal
government to step up to the plate and provide some capital funding. However, if it comes as a request of the region as a whole, it is much more likely to succeed.

How do students fit into local community development measures?
Students are a vital part of a vibrant Oak Bay, and a vibrant Greater Victoria. We need to talk more with students when it comes to the new Oak Bay Official Community Plan and the Active Transportation Plan.

What will you do to improve the sustainability of the operations of the municipality?
Oak Bay has already been working on making our recreation centre more sustainable, but we need to extend that work into our other
municipally-owned buildings, such as the town hall. I would also continue to acquire, where possible, hybrid and electric vehicles for the municipal fleet.

What is your position on bicycling and pedestrian infrastructure?
I am strongly in favour of more bicycling and pedestrian infrastructure. I was a member of the Citizen’s Advisory Council for the CRD’s Pedestrian and Cycling Master Plan, plus I am a member of the Municipality of Oak Bay’s Community Initiatives Committee, which is tasking with improving active transportation in Oak Bay. We recently passed an Active Transportation Plan, and I  committed to getting much as possible of the Active Transportation Plan and the PCMP built in the next three years.

How do you see recreation services for students in the municipalities improving?
We need to continue the region-wide recreation pass, as it has been a great success. We also need to keep offering student rates at our recreation centres. One place where students could play a key role is with inter-generational relationship building from UVic and Camosun to Monterey Centre, which caters primarily to the older population.

How will you increase student voter turnout in municipal elections? Are you willing to commit to campus poll stations by 2014?
To start, the municipal councillors need to be on campus more, both as candidates and as elected councillors, through teaching and other experiential learning programs. I strongly support campus polling stations in 2014 and would start work immediately to hopefully make that happen.

How will you better include youth in decision making process of the municipality?
We need to go out and do more community engagement, both using newer technologies, but also going into the places where people already are, which includes both UVic and Camosun campuses. Also, I would support getting more students engaged with the municipality as part of their studies with more experiential learning.

What is your position on open data initiatives?
I believe that  open data is very important, as it allows citizens to get more engaged in government, and gives them a better picture of how their world operates. However, open data must be done to allow the greatest possible reuse of the data, so must not place undue
restrictions on commercial activity or require onerous reporting.

What is your position on harm reduction services?
I strongly support harm reduction services, and given the recent Supreme Court ruling, would welcome safe consumption sites within
Greater Victoria. But we must remember all four pillars, and continue to fund outreach, detox, and housing for addicts wishing to move on with their lives.

What is your strategy for dealing with homelessness and the lack of subsidized housing? What is your position on outdoor camping?
I support dealing with the homelessness problem by dealing with the housing problem. More rental housing stock, available to all income levels, is the only way to truly end the housing crisis. I am torn with regards to outdoor camping in public parks in urban areas, because while I support the right to be housed, I am concerned about the long term ecological effects of camping if it spreads into sensitive ecosystems such as our Garry Oak Meadows.

How will you increase food security in the region?
We need to stop removing so much agricultural land from the Agricultural Land Reserve, and actually respect our urban containment
boundaries. True food security cannot happen without these steps. Within Oak Bay, I support finding more space for allotment gardens.

Angry crowd push council to reject secondary suites

Last night’s council was packed as expected given secondary suites were on the agenda. Also expected, the speakers were nearly all against secondary suites, probably out in forced because of the new anti-secondary suites group, Friends of Oak Bay Neighbourhoods. But what hasn’t happened since we had a little discussion about crap in the Uplands last year, we had hecklers in the crowd. It got so bad that Councillor Cassidy was visibly angry while he told off somebody for speaking out of turn, and Mayor Causton was forced to speak up as well.

Ultimately council decided, in a split vote, to move forward with more consultation, likely in early April. This will probably take the form of an informational fair and an invitation-only “stakeholders” meeting. More details later.

Secondary suites up for discussion tonight

Secondary suites are back on the agenda of the Oak Bay Council this Monday at the Committee of the Whole Meeting at 7:30pm. There is a new note from Mark Brennan, Chief Municipal Administrative Officer, likely about the public engagement the Mayor asked for at his January address. Should be interesting, given the founding of a new, issues-driven Friends of Oak Bay Neighbourhoods. Come by the municipal hall and see the fun (or join it, depending).

Secondary suites report finished, more discussion coming

The Secondary Suites Review Committee has finished its long and quite extensive consultation and has handed in its final report (PDF) to council last night. Predictably, council opted to talk a little bit more about it. Leading off the talking was Councillor Jensen, chair of the committee, who started by thanking everybody that participated, especially the committee itself (which, as far as I could tell, didn’t have a single renter on it) and the average person. He emphasized that this was just the start of the process, something echoed by other councillors. For example, Councillor Cassidy felt that the current conversation (that led to the report) wasn’t “balanced” as it “pre-supposed that council was going to legalize secondary suites”. Personally I think that the report is quite balanced and that the questions asked followed in that vein. Apparently Cassidy and I don’t see eye to eye on this on.

So where do go from here? Council has asked Mark Brennan, the Chief Administrative Officer, to report back on the report and next steps. Perceptive readers will note that Mark led the Town of View Royal’s staff as their CAO during its process to legalize suites. He noted that Oak Bay is a little different as the council there was mostly focused on the masses of new construction in View Royal. In contrast, Oak Bay currently builds about a dozen new houses a year. They also gave all the existing suites a free pass as far as building codes went, requiring only the extra parking and maximum square footage requirements to be met. Anyway, stay glued to the television sets my readers. Secondary suites will be legal in Oak Bay before I am retired.

Renters! Your voice is needed on secondary suites

Oak Bay has been considering legalisation of secondary suites for most of this year already and they have recently sent out a form asking for opinion on secondary suites as part of the tax notice. But us poor renters don’t own the property and thus don’t receive the tax notices (although we do pay the property tax, just via our rent).

Fear not, as the municipality has taken us into consideration. As Councillor Nils Jensen points out, 25% of Oak Bay residents are renters, so our opinion is important. You can pick up a form during business hours from the municipal hall at 2167 Oak Bay Ave. The deadline for it to be returned in July 10th, although this might get extended, depending on responses. You will need to show proof of residency to get a form.

The next meeting of the secondary suites committee is currently TBA, but I will announce it here when that date does get decided.

A daily grab-bag of links

The world keeps turning, even if I have been crazy busy with various non-bike relating things. So I present a grab-bag of fun links and commentary on news stories:

  • Packed in like sardines. It is a cliche and yet our buses (and public transit across the world) often feel more like a can of fish than a pleasant way to travel. To drum up political support for fixing the problem, a couple of Swiss decided to ride around dressed literally as sardines.
  • After dropping off my grandmother at a ferry today I got caught by this accident on Cordova Bay Rd. Apparently the cause was an 82 year old man having a heart attack. Why are we still building cities that require 80+ year old people to drive?
  • Speaking of my grandmother, two Saanich workers scared the crap out of her the other morning by walking into her back yard, looking for a storm drain cover. Turns out they were looking for the source of this oil leak into Douglas Creek, a salmon-bearing stream which runs through Mount Doug Park right behind her house.
  • Arthur Erickson, Vancouver architect, has died. He had a bit a love for concrete and brutalist buildings but also did a lot of good work including a building in the Downtown Eastside of Vancouver.

There has also been a whole host of news about community planning today:

And lastly,Transportation Alternatives, a bike and ped advocacy group in New York City that has gone from guerilla activism to advising the city’s Department of Transportation, has launched “Biking Rules: A new street code for NYC Bicyclists” campaign that is coupled with a slick website that also allows users to show safe biking routes they have found (via Streetsblog). The map is driven by data from OpenStreetMap. More of that free data empowering people and communities again.