May 28 Council Meeting Highlights

A variety of initiatives and requests were approved or received by Council, including:

  • support for Run for the Cure, the Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation
  • Capital Region Music Awards Society, a grant request to support the Juno Awards bid (approved in principle and referred to the next budget estimates cycle in 2013)
  • request for a temporary road closure for a July 22nd Block Watch Party on Henderson Rd.
  • Windsor Park Dog Group Dog Management Report (I did not participate in voting on this item and recused myself because my sister was one of the co-authors.  I understand that the report was favourably received as an impressive and balanced body of work). 

Two items that generated more debate were:

Terms of Reference for the Website Working Group – this was approved and Councillors Kevin Murdoch (Chair) and Michelle Kirby will join community volunteer members to oversee development of the new Municipal website and related technology issues.  

Working with municipal staff, this group’s responsibilities will include:  assist with Request for Proposal (RFP) responses; ongoing review with consultants as website is developed; review site configuration, technology, layout or other usability and site quality issues; assist with content creation as needed; provide input on test site before public release; and, provide final approval on new website, a communication plan for site launch and a final report to Council.

Electronic Participation in Council Meetings – in the middle of May, Council asked staff to explore the feasibility of electronic or remote participation by Council members in regular Council/Committee of the Whole meetings.  

Using the City of Victoria’s guidelines and the Township of Esquimalt’s provisions as references, Council discussed last night the results of the staff report outlining provisions of the 2003 Community Charter, that create the potential for electronic meetings, if authorized by a municipality’s procedural bylaw.

There are a variety of considerations that impact remote or electronic participation by Council members that include:

  • number of Council members at one time that may participate electronically;
  • conditions under which a member may participate electronically;
  • ability of the public attending meetings to hear the Council member via audio/visual links;
  • legislative requirements related to quorum; and,
  • adequate and complete information-sharing with the member participating remotely (i.e. electronic availability of Council agenda packages in advance of the meeting).

While I support this initiative, I opted to allow only one Council member at a time to participate in this way but the Council majority opted for up to two members.  I also cautioned that the approval/discretion of Mayor and Council for every request for electronic participation should form part of the procedural bylaw.  

Staff indicated that they must confirm whether or not the municipality currently has the full capacity to provide the necessary support to make this initiative viable.

Staff agreed to draft a procedural bylaw, with conditions, to allow electronic participation based on our discussion and suggestions, ensuring that governance and legislation, including the public interest, are not compromised.  The new bylaw will be back before Council in June.

My Two New Motions:

As you know, I brought forward two new environmental protection-related motions for Council’s consideration, as follows:

  • That staff be requested to research the ability of Oak Bay to develop and implement a required de-construction waste management plan as part of the demolition permitting process.
  • That the Environment Committee be requested to research, consider and recommend to Council, the feasibility of developing and implementing an environmental sustainability checklist or guide, as part of the re-zoning and/or development application permitting process.

Before the meeting, I was advised that my first motion first requires staff input to confirm that legislative authority allows Oak Bay to develop and implement this approach, before it is referred directly to the Environment Committee. Nevertheless, both motions as written above were supported by Mayor and Council.  I thank staff and Council for their advice and I look forward to updating you on the ongoing status of these two motions.

Other Business:

  • Councillor Tara Ney brought forward a motion to consider banning single use plastic bags in Oak Bay.  Council approved to refer this item to staff for more research and consideration.
  • Mayor Nils Jensen outlined the situation at 1531 Hampshire, a small house currently owned and maintained by the municipality.  The house has been rented for some years but now sits empty due to its condition. The Mayor is seeking public feedback on ideas for the future of this property asset.  The community will be encouraged to submit in writing its suggestions so please watch for communication from Oak Bay on where and when to make your submissions (website and OB News).


July 16, 2012 – Committee of the Whole

July 23, 2012 – Council Meeting

August 13, 2012 – Committee of the Whole

August 20, 2012 – Council Meeting

Council discussed changing meeting times for Council and Committee of the Whole meetings, changing them to be consistent with each other.  I sense some confusion with different times for each meeting (7:00 and 7:30 PM).  I suggested that all meetings start at 7:00 PM and Council and staff will consider this suggestion.