Packed Summer Agenda – Highlights of July 23 Council Meeting

The last of two meetings for July was a packed agenda and Mayor and Council sat until well after 10:30 PM.  Highlights include:

  • Future of Heritage Garage Still Under Consideration

The results of an engineering traffic report, comments by the municipal arbourist and Director of Building and Planning and submissions by the Heritage Commission and the homeowner, resulted in a Council decision that I supported, to defer this matter for more information.  The feasibility of traffic calming measures to mitigate traffic safety concerns by the homeowner and save from demolition the home’s street-level heritage garage, will be explored. This designated heritage property is iconic in the municipality and has been the subject of debate for months between the homeowner and municipality.

Inherent in the work of heritage is to educate and promote the importance of preservation and recognition when it comes to sites, buildings and locations of historical significance. Unfortunately, many homeowners are not well informed about what heritage registration or designation mean.  I hope that as the Heritage Commission moves forward with future planning and community consultation, homeowners and residents generally will learn about how heritage can help to protect what our community values.

  • Heritage Revitalization Agreement Under Consideration 

A Heritage Revitalization Agreement (HRA) application for 2176 Windsor Rd. will be subject to further discussion and negotiation with the homeowner before a final decision is made about the future of this property.  The site is the original St. Michael’s School property and the owner wants to preserve the house and property as a valuable community heritage asset.  I understand that HRAs are complex processes but I am pleased that the homeowner is willing to proceed at this time.  Stay tuned…

  • Re-Zoning Application Referred to Committee of the Whole

I supported a decision by Council to refer to the next Committee of the Whole for community input and further discussion, a re-zoning application for a new duplex.  I understand that the last time a developer applied to build a duplex in Oak Bay was 1966 (the year I graduated from high school). I support exploring alternate forms of housing such as duplexes, given that housing affordability and accessiblity in Greater Victoria are ongoing issues, particularly for younger people and families.  Footprint, location and compatibility with existing land use and surrounding neighbourhoods are all factors that can only benefit from further public discussion.

  • Smoking Ban for Public Spaces Proposed by VIHA

A request by the Vancouver Island Health Authority (VIHA) to ban smoking in public spaces, such as in parks and on beaches, as well as a request to ban hooka pipes, was referred to staff to obtain regional input.  I also asked that the report includes information about enforcement challenges, given that other communities have already acted on this request and I am curious about how they manage enforcement related to demand, staff time and cost.

  • Proposed New Signage and Bike Racks for Uplands Park

The Friends of Uplands Park have requested a new information kiosk and bike racks to be located in and around the entrance to Uplands Park.  But before such a request can be considered by Council, I supported a decision to refer this matter to staff to obtain further input from relevant municipal Commissions/Committees.  I also asked that a staff report includes information about security challenges related to parking bicycles near the Park entrance.

  • Block Parties a Big Part of Summer

Six applications for street closures to accommodate block parties were approved by Council.  I wholeheartedly support these activities as a great way of building a sense of neighbourhood and community.

  • Oak Bay United Church and Traffic 

During discussion about Oak Bay United Church’s application to amend their Covenant to expand Thrift Shop activity on the property, some neighbours spoke about related impacts of increased traffic and congested parking in and around Granite and Mitchell streets.  We all agree that the Church provides a worthy community service.  I suggested to Church representatives that they might wish to consider holding a neighbourhood meeting to talk about neighbours’ concerns, given that the Church is a natural community gathering place.  I know that I have learned about the tremendous value of face-to-face communication to resolve issues and promote goodwill.  Church representatives were open to this suggestion and I look forward to hearing about the results.  No decision on the Covenant was made at this time pending further input.

  •  Report Endorsed

Mayor and Council unanimously endorsed our new Strategic Priorities’ Report, a first for the municipality.  The report is the result of a March 2012 workshop where senior staff and Council members worked together with a facilitator to develop and identify strategic priorities for the next 3 year Council term.  As CAO Mark Brennan reiterated, this is a “living document” that will be updated and renewed annually.  For me, the Report’s key quotation is “Nothing stops an organization faster than people who believe that the way you worked yesterday is the best way to work tomorrow.”  I am very pleased that we are committed to this ongoing process because “without a plan, you are liable to end up somewhere else.”

  • Official Community Plan (OCP) Review Committee Expanded

A resolution by Councillor Pam Copley, Chair of the newly formed OCP Review Committee, to expand the Committee from four volunteers to six was approved.  I sit on this Committee with Councillors John Herbert and Pam Copley and we were overwhelmed with applications from very talented and skilled Oak Bay residents who want to be involved in this significant project. Interviews with applicants have already been held and the names of the successful six community members will be announced at the next Committee of the Whole meeting in mid-August.

  • Heritage Revitalization Agreement Authorization Bylaw Goes to Public Hearing

A Heritage Revitalization Agreement (HRA) for 1226 Roslyn Road will proceed to public hearing as required by legislation.  The house and property are located at the dead-end segment of Roslyn Road.  As with all of these applications, provisions to preserve and protect the streetscape and tree canopies, as well as address other environmental issues, are often part of the agreement. The public will have the opportunity to respond to the proposal at a public hearing on August 20th at Municipal Hall.  Please check the municipal website for the time.