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LETTER: Quest development should have gone to public hearing

Oak Bay has long had a tradition of allowing the public to speak on controversial land-use decisions. Remember the Penny Farthing Pub , Carlton House, and the Oak Bay Beach Hotel? I think the present council has failed in that tradition regarding the proposed Quest development on Oak Bay Avenue. The higher density Clive apartments and Bowker condominiums were approved in latter years with public hearings.

A comparison is enlightening:

The Clive, a three-storey, 17-suite apartment block is on a 12,012-square-foot lot, 55 per cent site coverage, 17-foot front yard setback, and 1.4 FSR (Floor Space Ratio is now called FAR or floor area ratio). It should be noted that the above-ground parking under the second floor is not included in the FSR even though it greatly contributes to the mass of the building.

The Quest, a proposed four-storey condominium building with 14 suites is on a 10,328-sq. ft. lot, 51.6 per cent site coverage, 25-foot front setback, and 1.87 FSR. The underground parking is included in the FSR even though it does not contribute to the observable mass of the building, and if deleted the FSR is 1.01.

When considering future developments, the FSR is a key identifier. The Bowker is an eye-opener. The 42 condominiums on a 28,000- sq. ft. lot covers 88.7 per cent of the lot with a FSR of 2.8. The underground parking is included in the FSR. The council did not allow the Quest to go to public hearing even though it received the planning department’s approval whereas Bowker did go to public hearing with a great deal more density increases.

Considering either side of the Quest are multi-family buildings (unlike the Bowker) where would Oak Bay find a more logical location for density?

Sending the Quest to public hearing would have been the correct land-use decision. You are not approving the building, you are asking for public input. We would then have learned whether the need for housing near and in the Oak Bay village would have been welcomed or denied. Previous councils have always deferred to public input. Why not now?

Patrick Skillings

Oak Bay