Amid housing targets, Oak Bay greenlights condo complex after decade of rejection

Click to play video: 'Housing holdout Oak Bay approves condo project'
Housing holdout Oak Bay approves condo project
WATCH: There may be a change of heart in a B.C. community that ended up on the province's "naughty list" over housing development targets. Oak Bay has finally given the green light to a condo project that has been in the works for almost a decade And as Richard Zussman reports, the housing minister hopes this sends a message to other municipalities. – Oct 13, 2023

The approval of a condo project that’s languished in limbo for the better part of a decade is raising hopes that more housing could be on the way in B.C.’s capital region.

Oak Bay, B.C., was one of 10 cities on the provincial government’s so-called “naughty list” of communities that need to more aggressively address the province’s housing shortage.

Click to play video: 'Wealthy municipalities react to B.C.’s housing targets'
Wealthy municipalities react to B.C.’s housing targets

Last month, the province assigned the city a target of building at least 664 units of housing over the next five years.

Story continues below advertisement

Now, after a decade of rejections, Oak Bay council has approved The Quest, a four-storey condo project at 2326 Oak Bay Ave.

“Whether they want it or not, this project has become a symbol of how difficult it is to get housing built in Oak Bay,” Housing Minister Ravi Kahlon told Global News.

“In this project’s instance there is the same type of building on both sides, yet they wouldn’t approve the one in the middle. It is key to see this project approved. ”

Kim Colpman, the property developer behind the project, said she believed public opinion has shifted on the housing issue, and that once the province “dangled a bit of a hammer,” council had no choice but to approve the building.

Click to play video: 'Housing targets announced for ten B.C. municipalities'
Housing targets announced for ten B.C. municipalities

“Finally this has been approved and we are really happy to deliver the project to the avenue and give some homes to people,” she said.

Story continues below advertisement

“I think everybody is watching. Council isn’t in a position anymore to risk denying projects that are completely (community plan-) compliant and have the full support of their staff and committees.”

The project was last rejected in 2022. At the time, councillors wouldn’t even allow a public meeting on the proposal.

Oak Bay Mayor Kevin Murdoch told Global News his community is prepared to meet the province’s housing targets. But he said it will need help to do it.

Click to play video: 'B.C. housing minister on delayed federal funding announcement'
B.C. housing minister on delayed federal funding announcement

“We are not 100-per cent sure yet what we need from the province, maybe some help with staff and streamlining the application process,” Murdoch said.

At the Union of B.C. Municipalities conference in September, B.C. Premier David Eby pledged a $61-million fund to help cities accelerate housing approvals amid the provincial targets.

Story continues below advertisement

Kahlon is expected to introduce housing legislation next week that will allow for automatic upzoning, one of multiple pieces of housing legislation to come this fall.

He told Global News he hopes the Oak Bay approval will send a message to other municipalities.

“The lesson for every community out of this is we need to build housing faster. We need to have some certainty in how decisions are made,” he said.

Sponsored content