A lighter Council Meeting agenda helped us get through the items expeditiously this week, given that we also have Budget Estimates the following evening, starting at 5:30. Chairing in the Mayor’s absence, Councillor John Herbert guided the process as we addressed the following items:
- Road Closure Request Granted
A request for a road closure to accommodate a summer block party on Yale St. was approved without hesitation. The opportunity for neighbours to get together in this venue is always very positive and certainly helps to build neighbourhood cohesion. I like the practice of block parties and I am pleased that Oak Bay Council continues to encourage this activity.
- Dancing at the New Oak Bay Beach Hotel
A request for support to change the provisions of a food primary liquor licence received unanimous consent from Council. If granted by the Liquor Control Board, the change will allow the new Hotel to have a dance floor and of course, based on previous extensive community consultations related to the Hotel, staff recommended that Council support this request. I asked if adjacent neighbours would have any concerns but staff indicated that this did not appear to be an issue. The Hotel is tentatively slated to open in July of this year.
- Final Report on Community Engagement Received
Council unanimously received the final report of the Community Engagement Working Group. Wrapping up three months of weekly meetings, community research and well thought out recommendations, the report contains a variety of ideas about how better to engage our Oak Bay community in local government decision-making, a first for Oak Bay.
This working group model was a success and along with staff, Council members Kevin Murdoch and myself and community members, we reached consensus on the recommendations. A new municipal website forms the lynchpin of the five top priorities and has been referred to budget estimates for consideration.
I commend everyone on the Working Group for a job well done and the community will have an opportunity to provide feedback on the report when it’s presented at a Committee of the Whole meeting in the near future. The Group’s vision statement says it all: “To Foster an Engaged Community Through a Variety of Opportunities for Collaborative Work, Grounded in Mutual Respect, and a Shared Responsibility.” Council agreed to forward any budget items to upcoming Budget Estimates.
- Heritage Commission Minutes Include a Referral for More Discussion
The Heritage Commission minutes were highlighted as a result of a recommendation from the Commission about the removal of a Beach Dr. property from the Heritage Register. The property owner made the request for removal, citing registration as an impediment to selling the property currently listed for sale. This was a challenging decision for the Commission and in a close vote, the Commission’s recommendation to grant the owner’s request concerned some Council members. The matter was referred to a Committee of the Whole for further discussion given that Mayor Jensen was absent.
Copies of the minutes regarding future improvements to the War Memorial Cenotaph at Cattle Point will also be shared with other stakeholders. Thanks to Gwen Ewan who prepared a comprehensive Conservation Plan to help guide future decision-making. Stay tuned…
- Monterey Centre Plaque Approved
Wording for a commemorative plaque noting the opening of the Monterey Centre in 1971 was approved by Council at the request of the Parks and Recreation Commission. Celebrating the tremendous contributions of the Monterey Centre to the health and well-being of our community will be remembered in perpetuity because of this type of recognition.
- Uplands Development Variance Permit Denied
An adjacent property owner objected to his neighbour’s plan to build an attached garage that he feels may impede his views, threaten a large Laurel hedge and involve curtailing the canopy of a large oak tree that softens the natural landscape between his home and his neighbour’s. After lengthy discussion and input from the applicant and the neighbour, Council suggested reductions in the massing of the garage. In a 5 to 1 vote, Council rejected the existing plans for the garage and encouraged the applicant to consider reducing the size if possible. I agreed with the Council majority.