What is infill housing?

    Infill housing is considered a form of ‘gentle density’, meaning it is generally of low scale and fits within existing residential neighbourhoods.  For the purposes of this study, the types of infill housing that will be considered are:  

    • Heritage Conversions (Converts an existing heritage home into multiple units) 

    • Detached Suites (Laneway houses and coach houses are an example) 

    • Subdivision of Larger Lots (Larger lots can be subdivided to allow for new single detached homes) 

    • Duplexes (A building with two units that are independently owned) 

    • Triplexes (A building with three units that are independently owned) 

    • Townhouses (A building with multiple units that are independently owned) 

    With the potential exception of Heritage Conversions, all of these types of homes are ground-oriented, meaning they have their own external entrance (rather than an internal entrance, like apartment buildings).  Heritage conversions may have internal access to each unit, depending on the building. 

    Why consider infill housing?

    Ensuring access to diverse housing options within the built environment is one of Council’s Strategic Priorities.  Infill housing is just one of the ways that the District can achieve diverse housing options.   

    What are some of the benefits of infill housing?

    Infill Housing can benefit the District of Oak Bay in a variety of ways—from supporting the retention of heritage buildings and providing greater tax revenue to providing more choices for intergenerational living, renting, home ownership, aging in place and more. Diverse housing options support diverse needs. Other ways of addressing this priority – such as Secondary Suites and Village Area Plans - are being considered as a part of other studies. Together these studies will create a comprehensive approach to housing in Oak Bay, called the Housing Framework.

    Where could infill housing be considered?

    Infill housing could be considered for existing residential areas.  This includes the areas that are identified as Established Neighbourhoods and Uplands zoning in the Official Community Plan.  These areas are primarily made up of single detached dwellings.  

    Does Oak Bay have any infill housing today?

    Yes! Oak Bay has about 300 duplexes in established neighbourhoods.  This makes up about 7% of Oak Bay’s private dwellings. Prior to the 1960s, duplexes were allowed on large lots. Although the underlying zoning was changed to prohibit duplexes as a permitted use, these duplexes are now considered a legal, non-conforming use. A number of applications have been received from owners wanting to rezone them, but this has not happened due to the lack of a duplex zone. 

    Oak Bay also has a small number of row houses (2% of private dwellings).  The proportion of single detached dwellings in Oak Bay is far greater in proportion than that in the CRD overall. 

    Why do we need infill housing?

    The District undertook a Housing Needs Report to strengthen local understanding of what kinds of housing are needed and to inform local plans, policies, and development decisions.  This report helps identify existing and projected gaps in housing supply by collecting and analyzing quantitative and qualitative information about local demographics, economics, housing stock, and other factors. 

    The following seven key themes outline important findings that emerged from the data analysis and community engagement.  

    Key Themes of the Housing Needs Report: 

    1. Housing in Oak Bay is increasingly unaffordable 

    1. Community demographics are changing despite little change in the housing stock 

    1. There is a lack of rental and homeownership options for working households 

    1. There are limited options for senior residents who need to downsize or access housing supports 

    1. Rentership is declining 

    1. There is a need for support for new housing development 

    1. Post-secondary students are facing significant housing challenges in the region and local educational institutions report difficulty attracting and retaining staff 

    Key Findings of the Housing Needs Report: 

    • There is a current estimated need of about 349 units in Oak Bay (178 studio or one bedroom units, 143 two bedroom units, and 28 three+ bedroom units). 

    • It is anticipated that this need will increase to 647 in five years (289 studio or one bedroom, 256 two bedroom, and 103 three+ bedroom units). 

    • Renters are more likely than owners to spend greater than 30% of their income on rent, and to lack housing adequacy, affordability or suitability. 

    What other factors will influence where infill housing might go in Oak Bay in the future?

    In addition to hearing from the community, this study will consider the following factors: 

    • Environmental (e.g. tsunami and flood hazards) 

    • Best practices for sustainable infill development (e.g. locating homes near transit, retail and civic amenities) 

    • Infrastructure capacity and impact (e.g. sewer and water) 

    • Parcel typologies (e.g. laneway access v. front access lots, wide lot v. narrow lot)