Difficult Decision

Early morning walks on Willows Beach are a good time to discover log creations of all sorts. The photo was taken on Good Friday, an important day to Christians worldwide. To others, a long weekend to be enjoyed with family and friends.

Last week I received a pamphlet distributed by Oak Bay United Church about their proposal for affordable housing on Granite Street.  Its mission “aimed at helping those in our community on low or fixed incomes so we continue to positively contribute the Oak Bay community for years to come”. Readers are encouraged to visit the Church website, so I did.

The website states “we are aiming for the rental income from our housing complex to cover all of the associated expenses including the mortgage, property management, property maintenance (including OBUC annual capital maintenance), existing debt and program support.”  That statement entirely changes assessment of the project, simplified to valuation of return on investment. Future profits must be high enough to cover expenses of the proposed rental housing building, and to maintain the Church building.

This is not criticism of the Church; investors are entitled to profit from projects.  It does emphasize why Oak Bay’s Council must carefully weigh long-term risks and benefits.

–  Heritage importance/value of the Church building to the community
–  Financial sustainability of affordable housing building, and church buildings
–  Risk/Impact to the District if future income steams fail to support both housing and        church
–  Loss of social benefits to the community if the Church cannot be sustained

There will be difficult questions and decisions for Council, for the community, and for the congregation.



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