March 19 Committee of the Whole Highlights

The COW agenda primarily focused on land use this week, with three applications submitted for properties in the Uplands.  A fourth agenda item from the Municipal Treasurer, supported by a staff report and budget breakdown, related to monthly financial reports (I supported approval and referral to Council), and a fifth item was minutes from the last Oak Bay Parks and Recreation meeting of March 7.

Parks and Recreation – a review of the March 7 meeting minutes raised for me questions/comments about:  

  • the note by the Commission about their concern that the tree replacement program reveals that less trees are being replaced on municipal property relative to the number of trees being removed.  I asked if this situation is being monitored and I was assured that every effort is being made to address it. 
  • I expressed support for the efforts being made to open and provide public access to washrooms, particularly at Fireman’s Park as a result of a request from a local resident to open a washroom there. 
  • I also expressed support for the Youth Pass program, a reduction to $99 annually for youth using the Oak Bay Rec Centre.  This program has been piloted to March 31 and I hope consideration to continue the program will be given.  I believe that, as a community, we should support and encourage our youth to use the Centre — the program provides more open access, creates more opportunity for positive impacts on a healthy lifestyle and provides a constructive outlet that can discourage more negative behaviour when youth have nothing else to do.
  • I voted to refer the Parks and Recreation budget to Budget Estimates.

Uplands Land Use – three applications were received for referral to Council and Committee of the Whole meetings, one for an addition and upgrade, one for an addition of an attached garage and one for the construction of an estate home on the grounds of “Robinwood,” located on Beach Dr.  

  • I voted to approve referral of the first two applications to a Council meeting and the third back to a Committee of the Whole meeting.  
  • On the third application, questions were raised by Council members about height variances, tree removal and location of accessory buildings not included in the existing set of site plans.  To me, the basic design and placement of the home appears to respect the context of adjacent streetscapes, building quality and overall goals of maintaining the integrity of a residential “park-like” setting in the Uplands.  Other members had concerns about the details of tree removal and how and where on the lot accessory buildings would be located.  The architect will coordinate a review of Council members’ questions and return to a Committee of the Whole meeting to present additional information.    

Other News:

This has been/will be a busy week of meetings for me:  

  • On Tuesday morning, I chaired the ongoing Community Engagement Working Group that is nearing completion of a report to Mayor and Council.  We will be making recommendations by March 31 on improvements to engaging our community in local government decision-making.  Group members are dedicated Oak Bay residents who bring experience to the table and I have appreciated their commitment.
  • On Tuesday afternoon, I attended as Council Liaison, meetings of the Heritage Foundation and the Heritage Commission.  Heritage has taken on a higher profile in recent months and goals for the future include expanded public education initiatives and development of a Heritage Strategic Plan.  Mayor Jensen also attended the Heritage Commission meeting for the first time as Mayor and congratulated members on their dedication to local heritage.
  • On Wednesday, I attend as Council Liaison, the Greater Victoria Labour Relations Association annual general meeting.
  • On Friday, I attend as Council Liaison, the Royal/MacPherson Theatre Society Board meeting.

Apart from the weather, this has been a good week.  Let’s hear it for Spring weather (please)!