Oak Bay Vanishes was established in 2015 in response to the increasing number of demolitions of older character homes across our community. The Facebook page includes photos of disappearing homes as well as articles on policy initiatives being undertaken by municipal governments in cities facing similar challenges to Oak Bay.
Oak Bay Vanishes is interested in your views on the potential priorities for the next council with respect to housing in Oak Bay.
The Official Community Plan, adopted in 2013, contemplated an increase in the mix of accessible and affordable housing over a period of ten to twenty years. Specifically, respondents to a community-wide questionnaire and various community consultations said they favored more multi-family housing and various types of infill housing.
Please check which forms of infill and multi-family housing you will support if elected and explain why, if you feel the need.
1. Regulation of secondary suites in existing private homes (approximately 800 suites)
Yes __________ No________
This question is wrong and was debunked via detailed data from BC Assessments. There are only 474 housing units in Oak Bay that contain a second kitchen that can be considered a Secondary Suite. These units are Grandfathered as Legal Non-conforming and will continue (as long as the house exists). Please stop disseminating inaccurate information.
If there are houses with major recent additions done without a building permit, these must be rectified. That’s the law. It’s to protect health and safety for all of us.
Please see the experience of City of Delta, BC, with their attempts to fairly setup Regulation of Secondary Suites - http://bit.ly/deltasuites
Unfortunately, many illegal, unsafe suites had to be shut down in Delta; and the fees never paid for the program - general taxes did. Essentially, building a new house with a Secondary Suite is much less expensive/more efficient long term.
2. Regulation and inclusion of secondary suites in newly built single-family houses
Yes ____ ✔______ No________
3. Legalization of non-conforming duplexes (approximately 70 units) so that the existing and future duplexes permit separate ownership for each unit
Yes _____ ✔_____ No_________
I would prefer to do this along with “Increased use of large heritage homes as multi-family dwellings” (before Secondary Suites), but Council did not support my suggestion.
4. Zoning changes to allow more duplexes, triplexes, and townhouses to be built in all areas of Oak Bay
Yes ____________ No ____ ✔_____
I have a problem with “all” as I wish to include a public engagement process with each affected neighbourhood.
5. Zoning changes to allow condominium and rental apartments to be built along major roads and bus routes in our villages (e.g. Oak Bay Village and Estevan) and corner commercial areas (e.g. Central and St. Patrick)
Yes ____ ✔______ No __________
This is a natural evolution of our District as it grows.
6. Inclusion of requirements that developers must classify at least 10 percent of units for less than market pricing or market rental rates to help address affordability and accessibility for low and moderate income families
Yes ____ ✔______ No __________
7. Inclusion of requirements that developers include community amenities in any new building or conversion of older large homes, with more than four units
Yes ____ ✔______ No __________
8. Zoning changes to allow laneway homes to be built where back lanes exist and the minimum lot size is defined
Yes ____________ No ____✔_____
Maybe. First, I wish to include a public engagement process with each affected neighbourhood.
9. Increased use of large heritage homes as multi-family dwellings through an application of Heritage Revitalization Agreements
Yes _____✔______ No ___________
This can both help to add in needed housing AND help to provide a cost effective way to maintain our heritage homes and streetscapes.
10. Institute an OAK BAY Homes Trust on municipal land or land covenanted to the municipality by private or institutional donors in order to improve housing stock for low and moderate income individuals and families
Yes _____✔______ No ___________
As long as it was operated by CRD Housing (or some other existing non-profit agency).
11. To protect our existing tree canopy, require all new developments to REPLACE every tree removed with new trees, including on private property not just municipal land
Yes _____✔______ No ____________
Due to the aberration of both “Vacant houses as Investments” & “AirBnB/Short-Term Rentals” distorting the affordability of homes for all, I don't see any other pragmatic way to deal with this than the comprehensive & systematic way that the province has suggested in their 30 Point plan for Housing Affordability: http://bcbudget.gov.bc.ca/2018/homesbc/2018_Homes_For_BC.pdf
Please note- I was the only Oak Bay councillor to vote in full support of the Vacancy Tax - as 5% of Oak Bay houses sit empty, as investments (7% in City of Victoria). As pointed out in our OCP, this problem is growing & must be addressed. The least expensive and most effective approach is at the provincial level.
FYI, here is some research on a Vacancy Tax effect on # of Vacant Housing Units from Vancouver’s experience:
Also, over the last 4 years, the # of AirBnB/Short-Term Rentals have increased exponentially, removing these units from long term rental. Other BC cities and towns have shown that strong regulations/strong enforcement is essential to maintain affordable rental options for long term residents. Here is my research to date on regulation of AirBnB/Short-Term Rentals:
Comments, suggestions always welcome, and thank you for doing this survey!
Please return your completed questionnaire by Thursday, October 11th, 2018
I ran for election to Oak Bay Council because, at heart, I care about Oak Bay - I love living here and raising my family here.
(Short on time - Get my Brochure with a summary of my Platform)
These are some of my core positions and policies. Please share with me your views. I am always open to new ideas and innovations.
- Oak Bay is the best place to live in greater Victoria. Why? Because of the quality of our single-family dwelling neighbourhoods - they are safe, quiet and unique. Most of our roads are not congested with traffic and lined with parked cars. These are some of the reasons why people want to live, and to continue to live, in Oak Bay.
- I will work hard to ensure our zoning and building bylaws reflect planned development. It is apparent the present ad hoc, spot-zoning approach we currently have has too many "unintended consequences". I will continue to discourage the reconstruction or replacement of existing homes with larger, out of scale structures that not only interfere with the neighbouring properties but also significantly reduce our urban forest.
- I am also concerned with housing affordability. I support the BC Government’s systematic and comprehensive "30 Point Plan for Housing Affordability in British Columbia". I highly recommend all become familiar with it. Regarding the included vacancy tax, I have lobbied government directly that it not be applied to any Canadian citizen - in a similar way to other countries' application of this necessary measure. I will continue to recommend some of the innovative affordable housing ideas I have suggested to Council that respect the character of our community.
- Short-term rentals (STR) are a new phenomenon that all local governments are struggling with. These are displacing long-term rentals and disturbing neighbours. I will press for strong regulation and enforcement. My research has identified several small BC communities that have had good success and are well supported by the courts when enforcement was necessary.
- Our single-family neighbourhoods must be protected and preserved, but it is obvious that this is not the intent of the majority of our previous two councils. The majority of recent councils have made it clear they want to significantly increase the density of our single-family neighbourhoods by wholesale legalization of: secondary suites, lane-way and garden suites, duplexes, etc. This will have serious impacts on our live-ability that need proper analysis and input from the affected neighbourhoods.
- Uncontrolled growth, related to taxes, will put too much pressure on our already under-funded infrastructure, and create more noise, more traffic, and parking problems. Our growth must be planned and gradual so our taxes and services and resources and excellent staff can absorb and handle the impacts. Our high taxes should have been allocated to improvement initiatives and not to supporting development priorities - for this reason I voted against the 2018 budget.
- There is no doubt change is inevitable; but careful planning and excellent public consultation will ensure it will be positive change.
- I will work hard to protect the rights of existing residents and the general public interest. I am concerned the Official Community plan is too vague and has too many loopholes. It is already time for the Provincial recommended five-year review.
- I believe Joni Mitchell got it right with her line "That you don't know what you've got / Till it's gone". If elected I will fight to protect what we’ve got and help to make sure it stays. When change is needed, I prefer a slow and steady approach.
P.S. I support Proportional Representation and will be voting for change - from our current "first past the post" voting system. Please learn what this is about as the mail-in referendum is coming very soon! Here are a few links to get you started:
I encourage you to contact me with your ideas. Let's work on this together.
Eric Wood Zhelka
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Thank you for considering donating to my Re-Election run as Councillor for the District of Oak Bay.
Eric Wood Zhelka, P.Eng
Candidate name: Eric Wood Zhelka
Municipality: Oak Bay
Candidate for: Councillor
1. What is your previous experience with the Arts?:
For an engineer, I have rather extensive experience in the arts!!
I have been a member of several choirs over the years, most recently with the Spirit Rising Community Choir. (I'm a tenor) I play the drum... music is a big part of our family life.
I have performed in plays with VideoCaberet and street performance/parades with Shadowland Theatre. I took part in a multi-year Island to Island Arts Exchange with Peter Minshall in Trinidad where I learned the intricate art of stilt dancing - a skill I taught children and brought to the streets during Carnival and Caribana. I am a founding director of the Swizzlestick Theatre company.
I am an amateur ballroom dancer and have occasionally performed. Most recently, I am expressing myself physically through the defensive martial art of Aikido. I am an assistant with the children's program at Victoria Aikikai.
When I travel, I make time to visit local galleries and museums. (And I love to brag about POV, the conservatory, and the RBCM when I'm in other places.)
2. Will you support increased investment in the Arts? And if so, how?:
Arts and culture, in my opinion, is part of what holds our society together, whether through creative protest or joyful celebration. I will look for ways to support the Arts here as I have elsewhere.
3. What does your campaign propose for the future of the Arts in the CRD?:
The CRD is responsible for implementing the established funding model for the Arts in the region; I'm certainly interested in promoting our support as a participating municipality. The Arts don't thrive and grow without appropriate funding.. especially funding that supports long-term planning.
I will continue to support OakBay’s Arts Laureate position created last year. I'm sensitive to those who may not find arts and culture quite their cup of tea; reasonable time restrictions on sound and light are always needed.
Eric performing in the Victoria Day parade, 2012
Responses from all Oak Bay Candidates can be found here.
The University of Victoria Students Society asked candidates a variety of questions around the needs of students and how the municipality can support them. I have included my responses below.
RUNNING FOR: Councillor, District of Oak Bay
If elected, how do you plan to support students?:
Oak Bay is fortunate to have a world-class university on its doorstep. Students attending UVic need an environment that supports their dedication and growth.
I believe that we support students by making them feel welcome and getting them the services they need. If we have done our job by providing a safe, peaceful, and welcoming environment, those students who are visiting us for the first time will want to stay here for good.
After the high cost of tuition fees, the cost of housing is the biggest burden to students and a barrier for some students to be able to access post-secondary education. If elected, what will you do to ease this burden?:
With half of UVic in Oak Bay, young adults who have grown up here have the option to live at home while attending university. Those who are visiting the region have several options including room and board arrangements or the rental of an unregulated secondary suite. With a new Official Community Plan bylaw in place, there will be a move to legalize and regulate secondary suites. As a member of Oak Bay Council, I will work to ensure that careful regulation creates an acceptance of suites in the areas where there is demand, and I will ensure that regulated suites are safe and comfortable homes away from home.
Taking in boarders is an option that has been very successful for visiting international students. Many Oak Bay families, mine included, take University and other home-stay students into their homes thereby proving a cost-effective alternative to apartment or suites. As a member of Oak Bay Council I would advocate that the municipality works with UVic to explore and expand this under-utilized housing option, possibly through an Oak Bay Housing Registry.
Students rely on public transportation to get us to where we live, work, and study. However, full busses as well as night routes that don’t go late enough make our primary mode of transportation unreliable. If elected, what would you do to address these issues?:
Students who choose to make our community their own can realistically bike, walk, and take public transit. These options will help students who might otherwise pay a multitude of expenses related to car ownership. While physical activities like biking or walking can help manage the stresses of student life, public transportation will always be critical.
As a member of Oak Bay Council I will be an advocate for improved bicycling routes throughout the municipality and to UVic. I will also ensure that the community is well served by a variety of public transit routes so that students can thrive without cars. For those who need cars, I will continue to be a supporter of the Victoria Car Share/Modo co-op.
Most students have to work while studying to help pay for our education, yet options for jobs are extremely limited. Also, students leave our programs saddled with debt and find a bleak job market. If elected, what would you do to bolster student/recent graduate jobs in our municipalities?:
I will work with UVic Career Services to help identify co-op job placement and work experience opportunities in Oak Bay for students.
Unfortunately, with the upcoming closure of the Oak Bay Lodge facility, Oak Bay is losing its second largest employer making it an even more challenging work environment.
I will work to support not only business and institutions who wish to respectfully locate in Oak Bay, but also, I will be an advocate for Open Data initiatives at the municipality providing raw data that might prove valuable to the entrepreneur and small business startups.
Where can students get more information on your platform?:
For more information about me and my vision for Oak Bay, please visit my website at www.ericzhelka.ca
Responses from other candidates are available here.
For those of you who did not see the Councillor Candidates Q&A in the Nov 5th Oak Bay News I have included my responses below.
I believe that my responses should give a sense of my thinking around these issues.
Responses from all of the candidates are available here.
Do you live in Oak Bay?
Yes, I have lived here with my wife and young family for 10 years. I work for the BC Gov. My background can be found at http://www.ericzhelka.ca/about
Are you in favour of some form of amalgamation in the Capital Region?
No. Why would Oak Bay give up our beloved Dump and the excellent service levels we have? These will be the first to go.
However, the CRD already is the shared services/amalgamation placeholder. I am in favour of slowly and orderly moving services to the regional level as the demand and evidence shows it will be cost effective.
What is your vision for sewage treatment in Oak Bay?
I prefer a smaller distributed system and I acknowledge that science supports our current system.
Do you think speed limits should be lowered in high crash areas?
Yes, and then a proper root cause analysis should be undertaken to resolve the issue.
Should mobility scooters be regulated?
Only if they start to exceed unsafe speeds, as determined by the experts.
Is a deer cull necessary?
I am not happy that the current council left it this long and did not apply non-lethal, population reducing methods such as the SpayVac contraceptive used successfully at CFB Esquimalt.
Only if public safety is a concern would I support a cull – with nothing left to waste.
Should secondary suites be legalized?
I’d prefer not. The census and the CRD say Oak Bay’s population is growing at 0.3% net per year (50 people). The OCP says it is 0.5%. I am in favour of accommodating new residents in the areas of higher demand and I like the idea of an Oak Bay Housing Registry that could, additionally, help seniors age in-place.
Does Oak Bay need stronger noise bylaws?
I believe we are fairly good in that area – compared to most places around the world I have visited. Our challenge is cost effective enforcement.
Should Oak Bay allow more freedom for dogs?
Even though I’m a dog person, in general, no. With my little kid in tow, I am happy to see the dogs on leash and the controlled times when they are allowed off.
Do you agree with the basic principles in the new OCP?
As a vision document, in general, yes. However, I find it a very poor document to help guide any planning for the orderly development of Oak Bay. The OCP survey questions "assum(e) key issues such as tree protection, parking, traffic, and noise and neighbourhood character will be addressed.” These are promises, not assumptions.
Should council encourage more filming opportunities in Oak Bay?
It depends. What are the community amenities that have been negotiated for Oak Bay? While there were some inconveniences, I appreciated the opportunities for employment that came here, especially for our youth.
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