Rob and Anita Parris on the south side of their Island Road property. The couple had hoped to subdivide but have run into some significant costs. (Travis Paterson/News Staff)

Rob and Anita Parris on the south side of their Island Road property. The couple had hoped to subdivide but have run into some significant costs. (Travis Paterson/News Staff)

Oak Bay seeks $300,000 from homeowner to split lot into two

Growing service fees too much, couple says

It’s been seven years since a couple on Island Road started the process to subdivide their lot but after nearly 1,000 hours of time spent, they’re now unsure whether to pursue it.

Rob Parris and his wife Anita live at 592 Island Rd. Their driveway fronts off Earn Street, which also serves as a trail head to Anderson Hill Park. They’ve followed the steps laid out for them by District of Oak Bay staff including lot surveys and camera inspections of pipes that cross their property on an easement, they said.

The lot is 1,615 square metres (17,389 square feet). The current house would remain on a 10,000 square-foot parcel and a new 7,000 square foot parcel would be carved off the south half.

READ ALSO: Oak Bay grants 60-days of protection for century-old mansion

In November, they got their preliminary layout consideration from Oak Bay, a key document that outlines the final steps for the subdivision. It included an estimate for $300,000 in off-site service fees such as road widening and paving, trail development along Earn and Island roads, service upgrades, power pole siting, and landscape installation.

“I expected $100,000 or $130,000 but not $300,000,” Parris said. “We’re not developers, we’re just a couple trying to subdivide our lot.”

Municipalities charge offsite servicing fees to upgrade the roads and utilities fronting the property. They consider more cars, more sewage, and generally require upgrades as a condition.

The right to charge applicants for service upgrades is built into the B.C. municipal charter. Finding that balance of who is responsible for offsite servicing costs, the taxpayer base or individual applicant, is difficult, said Mayor Kevin Murdoch.

“The general understanding in B.C. is that the applicant who looks to profit from a subdivision or development is expected to cover a certain level of (associated) infrastructure costs,” Murdoch said.

Steve Rennick, Oak Bay’s manager of engineering services, said overall costs have increased in relation to the market but the district has not changed its approach. He confirmed it’s not uncommon for applicants in Oak Bay to pay as much as $400,000 for offsite servicing, though the numbers fluctuate based on needs.

Until 2017, the District of Oak Bay was actually losing money and service upgrades and had to adjust fees. It increased the set cost to connect to a sewer main (up to 10 metres) to $5,300 from $3,075 (for a 100 mm diameter pipe) and increased the set fee for a water connection to $5,770 overall for a 10-metre connection (19 mm diameter). But that’s only a piece of the puzzle in trying to recover the district’s costs, Rennick said.

“We try and give people an indication that this is what it will cost, labour, material, fuel, all going up, year after year,” Rennick said.

The Parrises also spent thousands putting a permanent, protective covenant on about 40 per cent of what would be the new lot, which Oak Bay asked for.

“We made a mistake getting it before having the subdivision done. That’s my mistake,” Rob Parris said.

The covenant is expansive enough to create a buffer around the limb span of a mature oak. Nothing can be built there with the exception of a floating driveway (that minimizes damage on the limbs below).

READ MORE: Oak Bay council split over forcing heritage designation on Island Road home

“The main thing here is there is no appeal process, and we’d like better communication. We went through a long process only to be given a $300,000 bill at the end. I wish we knew that a long time ago.”

There’s also no chance to bring the case in front of council, who didn’t respond to a group email he sent, Parris said.

In the meantime, construction is underway a little further up Island Road where Amity Construction razed a 108-year-old house after abandoning a heritage revitalization agreement that would have protected it. That HRA was tied to the subdivision of one lot and house and a $427,000 estimate in service fees.

In a recent Saanich case, a couple convinced that municipality to let them install an infiltration ditch for their new home instead of a $300,000 fee to connect to a municipal stormwater pipe.

READ ALSO: Couple’s battle with Saanich over a $300,000 storm drain ends with a win

reporter@oakbaynews.com


Do you have a story tip? Email: vnc.editorial@blackpress.ca.

Follow us on Twitter and Instagram, and like us on Facebook.

oak bay

Just Posted

Victoria police are looking for a 38-year-old man after he allegedly assaulted and choked a missing 15-year-old victim in Beacon Hill Park Tuesday night. (Black Press Media file photo)
15-year-old choked in Beacon Hill tent, Victoria police assaulted while intervening

Police searching for 38-year-old suspect, two officers injured in altercation with park residents

Nanaimo-Ladysmith school district teachers’ union, and its counterparts from Mount Arrowsmith district, seek stricter COVID-19 rules. (News Bulletin file)
Nanaimo-Ladysmith teachers’ union asks for stricter COVID-19 measures

Teachers ask for vaccine, more online learning, mask mandate for primary students

Some Saanich firefighters have expressed concerns about first responders in the Island Health Region not being prioritized to receive the COVID-19 vaccine as an outbreak at a fire station would make service delivery a challenge. (Devon Bidal/News Staff)
Saanich firefighters not prioritized for COVID-19 vaccine despite working on frontlines

Saanich members express frustration, department calls on Island Health to take action

A total of 10 flight exposures have affected the Victoria International Airport in April so far, making it the highest monthly total since the start of the pandemic. (Black Press Media file photo)
Victoria hits record-breaking number of monthly COVID-19 flight exposures

As of April 21, 10 flight exposures reported for the month

Former University of Victoria rowing coach Barney Williams is photographed in the stands during the Greater Victoria Invitational at CARSA Performance Gym at the University of Victoria in Victoria, B.C., on Friday, November 29, 2019. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
Rowing Canada sanctions former head coach of UVic varsity women’s team

Suspension of Barney Williams would be reversed if he complies with certain terms

A large crowd protested against COVID-19 measures at Sunset Beach in Vancouver on Tuesday, April 20, 2021. (Snapchat)
VIDEO: Large, police-patrolled crowds gather at Vancouver beach for COVID protests

Vancouver police said they patrolled the area and monitored all gatherings

FILE – The Instagram app is shown on an iPhone in Toronto on Monday, March 19, 2018. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Graeme Roy
Judge acquits B.C. teen boy ‘set up’ on sex assault charge based on Instagram messages

The girl and her friends did not have ‘good intentions’ towards the accused, judge says

Kai Palkeinen recently helped a car stuck on the riverbed near the Big Eddy Bridge. While the car could not be saved, some of the driver’s belongings were. It’s common for vehicles to get stuck in the area due to significantly changing river levels from Revelstoke Dam. (Photo by Kai Palkeinen)
“I just sank a car’: Revelstoke resident tries to save vehicle from the Columbia River

Although it’s not permitted, the riverbed near the city is popular for off roading

Meng Wanzhou, chief financial officer of Huawei, walks down the street with an acquaintance after leaving B.C. Supreme Court during a lunch break at her extradition hearing, in Vancouver, B.C., Thursday, April 1, 2021. A judge is scheduled to release her decision today on a request to delay the final leg of hearings in Meng Wanzhou’s extradition case. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Rich Lam
B.C. judge grants Meng Wanzhou’s request to delay extradition hearings

Lawyers for Canada’s attorney general had argued there is no justification to delay proceedings in the case

B.C. Premier John Horgan announces travel restrictions between the province’s regional health authorities at the legislature, April 19, 2021. (B.C. government photo)
B.C. sees 862 more COVID-19 cases Wednesday, seven deaths

Recreational travel restrictions set to begin Friday

B.C. Finance Minister Selina Robinson is photographed following her budget speech in the legislative assembly at the provincial legislature in Victoria, Tuesday, April 20, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
B.C. budget lacks innovative drive, vision during uncertain times, say experts

Finance Minister Selina Robinson’s budget sets out to spend $8.7 billion over three years on infrastructure

Using panels kept cold by water circulating within them, B.C. researchers compared thermal comfort in 60 of the world’s most populous cities, including Toronto. (Lea Ruefenacht)
B.C. researchers use air conditioning to combat spread of COVID particles

Dr. Adam Rysanek and his team have proven a new worthwhile system – a mixture of cooling panels and natural ventilation

Police road checks are coming for people travelling between regions while COVID-19 travel restrictions are in place. (Black Press file photo)
B.C. clarifies COVID-19 travel restrictions, Lower Mainland a single zone

Vehicle checks on highways, at ferry terminals to start Friday

(Black Press Media file photo)
Saanich calls for non-police security for mental health patients at hospitals

Saanich police spent nearly 1,200 hours waiting with patients at hospitals in 2020

Most Read