May 14 Council Meeting Highlights

  • Flag Presentation

The iconic Oak Bay flag was “returned home” last night in a brief presentation to Mayor and Council. The flag had been flying in Afghanistan during the Canadian and NATO campaign there, in part as a result of one of the military members who is a graduate of Oak Bay High School. Accompanying the flag was a photograph showing where in Afghanistan the flag was flying. Mayor Jensen gratefully received the flag, citing how honoured Oak Bay was to have been represented in this way.

  • Of Block Parties and Road Closures 

A number of requests for road closures to accommodate summer block parties was unanimously approved by Council, but the children’s “Bouncey Castle” attraction was bounced from being approved.  Because of potential liability to the municipality if located in the street, the Cavendish road closure was approved without the Castle attraction, which must find a private location away from and off public property.

  • Statements of Significance for Heritage Received and Approved

I was pleased as Council Liaison to Heritage, Arts and Culture, to speak to Council on behalf of our Archives and Heritage Commission, supporting submission of a significant body of work, Statements of Significance (SOSs) that acknowledge and recognize the historical significance of a number of Oak Bay homes, structures and locations.  

These Statements were prepared by the incomparable Jean Sparks, volunteer Archivist, with assistance from the Heritage Commission and municipal staff.  I understand that this is the first time in about three to five years that SOSs have been submitted and we look forward to making submissions an annual event. The significant places are:

  1. 1512 Beach Drive
  2. Bowker Gates at Willows
  3. Cadboro Uplands Gates
  4. Gonzales Hill
  5. Lokier Garden
  6. North Uplands Gates
  7. Oak Bay Rose Garden
  8. South Entrance to Uplands on Beach Drive
  9. War Memorial Near Cattle Point
  • Expression of Interest to Host Association of Vancouver Island and Coastal Communities (AVICC) Annual General Meeting and Convention

Council unanaimously accepted the proposal contained in the Community Initiatives Committee minutes, for Oak Bay to host a future annual AVICC meeting/convention.  This is a major event bringing together municipalities and regional districts from all over Vancouver Island and the Sunshine Coast. Good for Oak Bay and good for our local economy.

  • Public Participation at Committee of the Whole Meetings

A staff report with options to change our procedural bylaw to facilitate public participation at Committee of the Whole meetings was unanimously approved by Council, with minor amendments.  

This represents a significant change to these meetings for Oak Bay Council, one that I fully support based on my previous Council experience; residents should always have an opportunity to speak to their Mayor and Council on items important to them.  This is after all about enhancing public and community engagement/participation in local government.  

Of note, suggested changes include:

  • public participation not restricted to items on the agenda.
  • items brought by the public outside our Council’s legal jurisdiction heard at the Chair’s discretion.
  • up to 20 minutes allotted for public participation (or 3 minutes per speaker) at the beginning of each COW meeting.
  • no restrictions on who can participate (i.e, does not have to be an Oak Bay resident, non-resident property owner or business owner).

This new procedure will be monitored for success and if necessary, adjustments will be made to focus speakers and our agendas for time efficiency.

  • Official Community Plan (OCP) Project Advisory Committee Update

Terms of Reference and Council representatives for the new OCP Advisory Committee were recommended in a staff report and unanimously supported and approved by Council.  The three Council representatives sitting on this Committee are Councillor Pam Copley (Chair), Councillor John Herbert and Councillor Cairine Green.  Four community representatives will be appointed following a public selection process so please watch for advertisements in the Oak Bay News and on the Municipal website.

  • Neighbourhood Consultation a Must for Developer

While a number of Development Variance Permits were finally approved, one application met with neighbour resistance, causing the property owner/developer to withdraw his development proposal.  As a required part of the development variance permitting process, adjacent neighbours are notified of a developer’s proposed plans and then are at liberty to submit their comments to the municipality.  

Although the developer in this case indicated to an earlier Committee of the Whole meeting, that he had canvassed his neighbours and there appeared to be support for his proposal, the results of formal notification of his neighbours by the municipality, revealed a variety of serious concerns about his plans.  In the end, realizing that Council would probably not support the current application (in the end, Council technically voted to deny his application), the developer voluntarily withdrew his proposal and agreed that it was “back to the drawing board.”