OBUC Affordable Housing Density FAQ
February 1, 2018
We’ve read that the OBUC proposed affordable housing building will be the most dense apartment in Oak Bay, is this true?
This information is both misleading and incorrect.
The District of Oak Bay’s Official Community Plan stipulates (see OCP p63) that density is calculated by dividing the total gross building area by the site area, known as the FSR or Floor Space Ratio. Inaccurate calculations used units/acre, which is not used in Oak Bay or surrounding municipalities, because it distorts comparisons where there are a range of unit sizes and occupancy ratios. The OCP mandates FSR to calculate density, not units/acre.
The church’s site totals 56,000 sq. ft. Current OBUC scenario ranges suggest the likely density will be similar to buildings built in Oak Bay approximately 50 years ago, as shown in the table below, and less than comparable recent approvals. The building is expected to be a similar height to nearby buildings and parking will be underground to address neighbours’ concerns, creating better setbacks to improve appearance and reduce building mass. Density will thus be less apparent than with some other buildings.
See Oak Bay OCP: https://www.oakbay.ca/sites/default/files/ocp/2014/OakBay-OCP-Final-Website-dec0414.pdf, page 63, which includes a partial FSR comparison table.
What about increased traffic and congestion resulting from this new building?
Research shows that residential densification does not necessarily lead to congestion and increased travel times within neighbourhoods.
All new developments must meet Provincial building code and municipal planning and engineering standards that are designed to ensure safety and harmony between a proposed residential development and the surrounding community.
Affordable housing near high-quality transit provides alternatives to vehicle use and low-income households own fewer cars and drive less.
What about the strain on public infrastructure?
Higher density residential developments typically require less extensive infrastructure networks compared to low-density single-family housing.
In fact, these developments can create an economy of scale for the cost of providing the infrastructure, with the cost savings being passed on to the resident, resulting in more affordability for all residents.
Increased density can also encourage additional transit routes and frequency, and support commercial areas.