June 11th Council Meeting Highlights

  • CREST Presentation

The Capital Region Emergency Services Telecommunications (CREST) Board Chair and General Manager gave presentations related to CREST’s recently published Annual Report.  Mayor Nils Jensen sits on the CREST Board representing Oak Bay and our municipality was acknowldged by the two CREST representatives as providing excellent ongoing cooperation on the planning and delivery of CREST services.

  • Community Association of Oak Bay

Jill and Tom Croft of the Community Association of Oak Bay (CAOB) attended to present to Mayor and Council the impressive new Oak Bay community Green Map, a guide to significant landscapes, places, habitats and landmarks in Oak Bay.  

The map represents years of dedication from volunteers in cooperation with partners and sponsors, such as the University of Victoria, the Victoria Foundation, the Victoria Real Estate Board and the Municipality, to make the Green Map dream a reality.  Mayor and Council thanked the Association and all those involved in bringing the Map alive. Copies will be available at the Hall and elsewhere in the community so please watch for them. 

  • Community Delegation and Related Correspondence

Residents Anthony Mears and Eric Zhelka, representing a recently formed community group known as Oak Bay Watch, attended and were granted an opportunity to make a power point presentation requesting an amendment to the municipality’s zoning bylaw on floor area ratio (FAR) regulations. They and others are concerned about what they perceive as the encroachment of “monster houses” being built on small lots and argue that Oak Bay’s current zoning bylaw has gaps that allow such construction.

While I and other Council members appreciate some of their concerns, I personally believe that how some members of this group’s behaviour could be more positive and constructive.  I spoke to the need for civil discourse, for working together and for remembering that “they” is we.  

I suggested that this Council is just six months into its new mandate and has already made, with the support of staff, some significant and progressive changes to public participation, meeting procedures and information-sharing, including:

  • two working groups that addressed community engagement and pre-planning for renewal of the Official Community Plan (implementation of recommendations currently underway);
  • two standing Committees, one on Environment and one on Active Transportation (ongoing);
  • a new municipal website (working sub-committee and request for proposal process underway, with a target date of a new website launch this summer);
  • a staff report on issues related to FAR, due back to Council in September that will address concerns about small lot subdivision;
  • a Heritage Strategic planning process, with community consultation and planning completed by December;
  • public participation at Council meetings; and,
  • neighbourhood meetings to commence this fall, with two recommended before the end of this year.  

We are all concerned about the preservation of streetscapes, green space and smaller homes but changes to zoning require careful consideration so that “unintended consequences” do not cause further challenges.  I will also continue to recommend the need for a qualified planner, given that Oak Bay is now facing re-development pressures.

Stay tuned…

  • Animal Control Bylaw Amendments Requested

Amendments to bylaws for bees and dogs were considered, the first to allow beekeeping on small lots (the bylaw with suggested changes will be returned to Council about a month from now).  The second bylaw (the result of a recently submitted dog management report/recommendations by the Windsor Park Dog Group), to allow a pilot at McNeill Bay, had three readings, with suggested amendments for language that will be finally adopted at the next Council meeting.

  • Heritage 

Minutes of the Heritage Commission were discussed, highlighted by a recommendation by the Commission to deny a request by a resident to demolish a heritage building (garage) as part of a Designated property on Hampshire Road.  This property is unique in the area because the house, land and accessory buildings are all Designated.  The owner believes that for traffic safety reasons, the heritage garage at the street should be demolished to allow him and his family safe access and egress from their property.  The matter was deferred until Council members can visit the site and perhaps other options can be explored by the municipality with the owner.

  • Environment Committee Update

The Chair of the new Environment Committee is Brian Holl and my understanding is that monthly meetings are at Municipal Hall.  As are all meetings of Commissions and Committees, these are open to the public and Councillor Kevin Murdoch is Council Liaison.  For more information about meeting days and times, please contact Municipal Hall or Councillor Murdoch. 

  • New Business

Councillor Pam Copley announced a Notice of Motion to endorse the 100-year Bowker Creek Plan. 

June 19 is a Special Council Meeting on Oak Bay Lodge at Monterey Centre from 7:00 PM to 10:00 PM.

Neighbourhood Meetings will be scheduled to commence in September, with my suggestion of a second in November under consideration.  

Municipal staff commended – two letters shared by the Mayor, from residents who commended the work of Engineering Dept. staffers Phil Barnett and our arbourist.