Pubic Consultation FAQs

January 25, 2018

What are you doing to ensure adequate public consultation and community engagement?

We are in the early stages of consulting with our neighbours, the broader Oak Bay community, our congregation and the District of Oak Bay. Our engagement in 2017 primarily focused on introducing the project, and gaining an understanding of issues and concerns of our near neighbours. This input helped develop initial designs to try and meet neighbours’ suggestions and concerns and help determine viability.

In 2018, we will expand our conversation and exploration to include the broader Oak Bay community, as this is very much a community-wide topic. We are looking to build input opportunities into our new website and to identify additional engagement tools as we plan our public consultation activities for 2018. Please check back to the website where we will share our plan, once it’s fully developed.

OBUC’s neighbours feel you are not listening to their concerns and issues, instead doing what you want. Is this true?

We understand the prospect of change of any kind is difficult, especially when there are various unknowns at this time and uninformed speculation. We are absolutely committed to thoughtful and meaningful consultation with our neighbours and the broader Oak Bay community. No final decisions have been made with respect to this affordable housing project.

The concerns and issues being raised are common ones with respect to affordable housing developments and we welcome this dialogue. More information regarding affordable housing is available here.

While we may not agree on all aspects of the project, we are committed to listening and will consider all input even if some suggestions cannot be accommodated.

If this project is a blank sheet of paper, why have you landed on affordable rental housing so quickly?

We do not have a blank piece of paper for planning: there are existing buildings, trees, greenspaces and access points to be considered, as well as issues such as providing (expensive) underground parking and addressing traffic needs, all while ensuring the project is viable.

OBUC is seeking to deliver low income housing rather than see the land developed for full market uses as this approach is most compatible with our ministry in Oak Bay. We’ve considered many approaches to addressing our financial challenges and this direction meets our long-term requirement for viability while best reflecting our values and commitment to Oak Bay. (You can read more about the options we considered here.)

Further, it supports the District of Oak Bay in meeting its Official Community Plan (OCP) commitments and aligns to Capital Regional District’s and the Province of BC’s goals and commitments.

What consultations have you undertaken to-date?        

In recent months, we held four sessions with our near neighbours (95 attendees) and one with our congregation (57 attendees) to introduce the project and identify challenges and issues. These sessions were followed by two working sessions with our near neighbours (64 attendees) where participants commented on draft approaches to addressing key issues. Several constructive ideas were generated from these discussions and further refinements to concept designs are being made as a result of this input.

In the coming months we will reach out to the Oak Bay community and other stakeholders to gain a broader community perspective, while continuing to work to mitigate and address ideas, issues, concerns and opportunities raised through our early engagement process.

What themes have emerged from your consultation to-date?

Through our initial workshops and working sessions, we received invaluable input from our neighbours, including a wide range of suggestions on how we could build something that would complement our surroundings and contribute positively to the neighbourhood. Key issues identified to-date include:  density, massing, traffic, parking and privacy. We were also encouraged to hear positive support for affordable housing and dialogue about the community’s future housing needs.

While there is fairly consistent agreement that parking and traffic should be minimized, other contributions were wide-ranging and often contradictory. The project team will consider all the issues and ideas raised as it progresses with its technical work.

Did OBUC invite congregation members who live outside the near neighbour boundaries (four-block radius) to the neighbourhood sessions?

No, we held a separate session for congregation members. Invitations to the neighbourhood sessions were hand-delivered within the four block radius and attendees were required to give us their addresses when they registered for the sessions. 95 neighbours attended those sessions.  There were a handful of people who did not pre-register and we did not turn them away.  However, we can confirm that at least 90 of the attendees were from the 4 block radius. Congregation members who attended those sessions live within the boundaries. There were also 3 Councillors who attended as observers.

Has OBUC shared the same information (specifically four design scenarios) with the community that they have given the neighbourhood surrounding them? Is this true and if so, why not?

OBUC has publicly stated that we are committed to engaging our near neighbours, who will be more affected by our proposal, prior to consulting with the broader community. This helps ensure we understand and work to mitigate their issues from the outset.

The scenarios referred to were actually context block drawings to help facilitate discussions about issue resolution and mitigation with near neighbours in Dec. 2017. This work serves as important insight for our public consultation stage that we’re currently preparing for.

We remain committed to engaging the broader Oak Bay community in the coming months. You can read about the session and overall process to date here.

What are your next steps with respect to consultation?

We are planning further consultation activities with our neighbours and the wider Oak Bay community based on the input we’ve received to-date through the pre-consultation workshops and working sessions.

We are looking to build input opportunities into our new website and to identify additional engagement tools as we plan our public consultation activities for 2018. Check back to the website or sign-up to receive direct notification here.

To learn more about the project, you can also e-mail project@oakbayunitedchurch.ca

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