My perspectives on the Oak Bay Lodge site

The Oak Bay Lodge will become available in about one year. How would you like to see it developed?

A bit of context.

The current Oak Bay Lodge is a regional facility that provides a range of residential care levels options and services for seniors, allowing them to remain in a familiar and stable setting as they age in one location. This has been a valuable asset in Oak Bay where many have benefited from the campus of care facility for the past 35 years. So in 2012, when Island Health partnered with Baptist Housing to propose the replacement of OB Lodge with a six story, 320-bed (possibly expandable) regional complex and dementia care hospital, there was an outcry from the neighbouring and larger OB community, myself included. Though many in Oak bay continue to believe the project was to replace the OB Lodge with another campus of care, this was simply not so. The replacement was from a campus of care facility to a regional complex and dementia care hospital.

Though Island Health was asking for significant change of use and increase in size and mass of the complex, they conducted NO consultation with OB Council nor the community. Yet there were legitimate concerns about height, massing, parking, traffic congestion, blasting, and change of use. In fact, the square footage of the proposal was about two times that of the Oak Bay Beach Hotel! These concerns, as well that Oak Bay residents would not have priority access to the new facility, the narrow scope of critical care only, and that the dementia care hospital would be exempt from land taxes to Oak Bay, the original application was rejected by Oak Bay Council. Councillors Braithwaite, Jensen, and myself voted against the original application, and Herbert and Mayor Causton voted in favour.

Eventually, in response to Oak Bay’s final decision with the next Council, Island Health still needing a critical care hospital to meet region needs, turned their attention to another site, at Blanshard and Hillside. Most people I talk to in the region agree this a much better location for a regional critical care facility of this scale.

The learning here must be that any project of this scale on this site must undergo extensive community and regional consultation.

Currently Island Health owns the property and very soon intends to legally transfer the property to the Capital Regional Health District (CRHD). The CRHD will then consult with the larger region about the future use of this land. The only criterion the CRHD is constrained by is that the province requires the land be used for the “public good”. This opens the door for local input on the future use of this property.

So as the CRHD enters an engagement process with the region, I would want leadership in Oak Bay to be proactive and engage the neighbours and broader community to develop some creative ideas for this strategic property that can at the same time meet the needs of the region as well as Oak Bay. This might be a site with mixed use housing for elder care as well as below market rental for young families that will encourage connectivity between seniors in care or living independently and young families, for example. But importantly, this would be a bottom-up process reflecting the needs of the region AND views of Oak Bay residents.  I would be very concerned about any leadership that wants to repeat the mistakes of the past, making behind-closed-door deals to predetermine the use of this site without thoroughly consulting the citizens of Oak Bay.

There’s still work to do. That’s why I’m running in 2018

I’m excited to be running for Oak Bay Municipal Council again, in 2018.

There’s still work to do.

Aiming to enhance village vibrancy, improve safe streets, and identify housing options sets into motion the right steps for the Oak Bay of today, and of tomorrow.

I’ve 10 years of experience at the Oak Bay Municipal Council table. I’ve served as Chair of the Mayor’s Task Force on Public Engagement, Chair of the Mayor’s Task Force on the Cenotaph as well as Council Liaison for the Oak Bay Arts Committee, and The Urban Forest Strategy. I sit on the Capital Regional District Arts Commission, the Regional Housing Trust Fund Commission, the Royal and McPherson Theatre Society and the Greater Victoria Labour Relations Association.

It’s my hope that through these roles I have proven my commitment to act as a steward of Oak Bay’s unique environment and heritage, and my dedication to expanding public space to celebrate our unique art and culture while maintaining fiscal responsibility. Housing issues and land use processes remain a key focus in Oak Bay.

My approach is one that takes steps in the right direction at the right pace.

That means working with our community as we address these priorities. I’m excited to hear from and respond to residents’ views on key issues over the coming weeks ahead.

Thank you Oak Bay! . . . four more years . . .

I would like to thank the voters of Oak Bay for turning out in large numbers to support its candidates—43% of you! That’s an all-time high for Oak Bay.  You can view the detailed results of each candidate here.

I would like to particularly acknowledge the positive energies of all the candidates; win or lose, your commitment cannot be underestimated.

And of course I would like to thank those who listened to me, and generally put up with me as I haunted the corners of our wonderful municipality speaking to anyone who would listen, and listening to anyone who would speak.

I would also like to acknowledge and thank my very smart team for guiding, supporting, and encouraging me. You know who you are.

And finally, standing for political office can be daunting—we put ourselves on the line in many ways. I am so deeply grateful to my loving family and friends who give me the reason and inspiration to do this work.

Our community made it clear to me that they want to be uniquely positioned as a leader and a model to other communities that want to protect their environment and create a healthy, sustainable lifestyle—all of this managed in a fiscally responsible manner.

I look forward to serving this wonderful community.

Oak Bay Community Plan – Setting the Record Straight

As a result of a recent email circulated by the Oak Bay Watch, some residents have become anxious about what the new OCP might mean for Oak Bay in terms of land use. The notion that the goal of the Oak Bay Community Plan (OCP) is densification has been promoted. This is inaccurate and a distortion of the facts.

Similar to the previous OCP, the growth projection for Oak Bay (required by the Local Government Act) is 0.5%. This very low projection is well under that in other municipalities. Importantly, the growth rate is NOT a target; it is a projection. And densification is not the goal, but a means to provide housing options for 80% of Oak Bay respondents who said they want them.

Allowing for some minimal growth in the community provides opportunities to develop housing options primarily for two groups of people: seniors who wish to downsize but remain in the community and young adults. We heard that this is what residents want.

The OCP is the product of consultation with, and input from, over 4000 Oak Bay residents. That very high level of involvement is the guarantee that common values will shape the future face of this community.

It is not possible to “blanket the community with duplexes, or permit massive subdividing” as has been suggested by some municipal candidates. Such a strategy would not comply with the OCP and is not what the public wants. We must avoid fear mongering and polarization on issues. These tactics are not helpful as residents struggle with making the right choices on Election Day.

The OCP is solid. In the planning world, it has been described as “award winning” in so far it aptly balances the need for some change with provisions to preserve the unique character of Oak Bay in terms of neighbourhood ambience, streetscapes, heritage and retention of trees.

The OCP identifies other key strategies around sustainability, energy efficiencies, and climate change adaptation but clearly housing and land use are the most controversial. It is important that the residents elect a council that will respect the legacy of resident participation in land use decisions and planning.

I am fully committed to adhering to the principles and aspirations expressed by residents in the process of land use planning.

Tara Ney
City Councilor
District of Oak Bay

Re-elect Tara Ney

This will be the third term I will be asking for your support to represent you.

It has been an honor serving you over the past six years. As you read through this site I will share my views and many of the things I have been involved with in 2011-2014.

Much has been accomplished in the past term , but perhaps most significantly, Council completed the Official Community Plan (OCP). Thousands of you participated to make this a forward-looking document that will shape the vision of our future—a vibrant, resilient, and sustainable community; you have told us that you want to protect what we love and value, and plan for the future.

In this next term, Council will implement the OCP.  I would like to be a part of this process to ensure citizens’ voices are heard and that the vision of our future is realized.

On November 15, 2014, please come out to vote!