Diverse and expanded housing options
The greater Victoria area is in a housing crisis. With vacancy rates often hovering around 1% and ownership out of reach for many due to housing costs rising far beyond inflation, many people simply can no longer afford to live here. This means young families and folks starting out can’t get in, and older long-term residents looking for a smaller more accessible housing option have nowhere to go. Much of this is laid out in stark detail in the Oak Bay’s housing needs report.
Over the past year our infill housing strategy has engaged hundreds of people in a discussion about what citizens want to see happen to provide more housing. I participated in the public input sessions and heard the message loud and clear: our citizens want to see Oak Bay provide more options, more choice and more access to housing.
Over this past term I have consistently been the most passionate voice in advancing housing solutions. I’ve spoken out at every opportunity to reduce barriers to implementing our secondary suites bylaws and to speed up the process of consulting on the infill strategy. You can always be assured that I will take an action-oriented, proactive stance on this subject.
My key goals:
Going forward, I will put the highest priority on responding to the issues identified in our housing needs report, implementing the public’s recommendations on our infill housing strategy and moving to create a diversity of housing options for residents. We also need to expedite our village planning process to reinvigorate these areas by providing a renewed mix of commercial space combined with housing close to transit and amenities. This type of development can have a significant impact on greenhouse gas emissions and the sustainability of the community.
There’s been a lot of discussion of late as to what affordable housing looks like in Oak Bay. High land values and a lack of senior government support are significant factors here, but that doesn’t mean we should ignore the need and not look at how Oak Bay can contribute. I recently put forward a motion to examine ways to decrease barriers to affordable housing in Oak Bay, and I want to see this work advanced and develop a “made in Oak Bay” approach. I truly believe that we can develop options to ensure that folks starting out can live in our community.
Sustainability and Active Transportation
Over the course of my term, I have become recognized as the council member that takes the most action-oriented stance on sustainability. I brought forward the motion to declare a climate emergency in the district and followed this up by creating and chairing the Community Climate Action Working Group to develop actionable solutions. Many of these are now implemented, including the innovative Coolkit program that supports the community in creating climate action projects of their own design. I’m extremely proud of the outcomes from the working group and how the community has embraced making its recommendations a reality.
My key goals:
Moving forward, I’m going to continue to make sustainability a priority by addressing the two biggest sources of greenhouse gas emissions at the local level: personal transportation and housing.
I’ve consistently been a voice for active transportation improvements and complete streets in our community. When I began my term, no separate line item existed in the District’s budget for Active Transportation. I brought forward an initiative to make this a reality and followed this up by bringing a motion for strategic direction to invest up to $1 million yearly.
I responded to community concerns about traffic on McNeill Avenue and presented motions to implement an improved design that increases accessibility for all road users.
My key goals:
Going forward, we need to implement. I have consistently called for the creation of a minimum network of active transportation infrastructure in a five-year period. If re-elected, this will be a top priority for me in our first strategic planning session with your new council.
Vibrant villages and compact communities
The COVID-19 pandemic had a profound effect on our community and took an unprecedented toll on our citizens. It reminded us how much we look forward to our shared social events and spaces: music in the park, the Oak Bay Tea Party, the night market, playing the public pianos. In the middle of that hard time staying apart there was a bright light: The patios and expanded pedestrian spaces that were initiated during the pandemic have made Oak Bay Village more vibrant as well as safer and more enjoyable for pedestrians. We’ve had notable success with this modest program and we need to do much more in the future.
I’m passionate about public space and I’ve been working to make it better for over 20 years. We have a ton of potential in our village areas and across the district to invest in creating more inviting spaces that are people focused, regionally unique and sustainable.
My key goals:
We need to invest in our village centres to build on what we’ve learned and encourage people to think about them as public space. We also need housing, and we need it in locations that are accessible to transit, amenities and workplaces – compact communities. To get there, I want to engage the community in an efficient and results oriented dialogue about what might be. We have a village planning process coming up early in the new council’s term. This process needs to be followed by quick action – nobody wants to see a plan that sits on a shelf. I want to be at that table pushing hard for creative ideas and quick implementation.