The months of January and February have been active, with two new working groups forming and getting on with the process of examining options for community engagement and a process to support the upcoming Official Community Plan review.
I chair the Community Engagement Working Group (meets weekly) that includes Councillor Kevin Murdoch, a staff representative, community volunteers from each of the residents’ organizations (Community Association of Oak Bay and North Henderson Ratepayers Association) and two community residents who have experience in community development and public engagement. We will be submitting a report and recommendations to Mayor and Council by the end of March 2012.
Councillor Pam Copley chairs the OCP Review Working Group (meets weekly) that includes Councillor Tara Ney, myself and volunteer residents who have expertise in community planning and development. This group will also prepare a report with recommendations for Mayor and Council about the best options for reviewing and developing an updated OCP for Oak Bay.
Oak Bay is fortunate to have skilled and committed volunteers at the tables of both working groups and I am impressed with the levels of expertise and experience that these residents bring to the work. Oak Bay has a wealth of talent among its residents.
Two other new standing committees on the Environment (chaired by Councillor Kevin Murdoch) and Active Transportation (chaired by Councillor Michelle Kirby) will be up and running shortly once volunteer applications are reviewed and individuals are interviewed and selected, a process probably completed within the next two weeks.
All of this activity is brand new for Oak Bay but I believe that its success serves us in two important ways —- engages together residents, staff and Council members and provides a golden opportunity for public input into local decision-making about important community priorities. My hope is that these activities result in a more responsive, flexible and open local government model that is community-driven.
Stay tuned for further updates on this work and if you have questions or comments, please don’t hesitate to get in touch with me or other Council members.