- Mayor’s Remarks
The Mayor opened the meeting with remarks related to the Bowker flooding that occurred last week. On behalf of the municipality, he expressed how tragic the events were given the impact on residents in the area. He assured everyone that a review is underway involving Oak Bay Emergency Services’ staff, with a report to follow on how Oak Bay can better address protocols and processes to avoid any future incidents of this nature. The Mayor also acknowledged that Councillors Green, Herbert, Kirby and Ney had visited the neighbourhood to express their concern and talked with some of the impacted residents. I will continue that follow up with some of my colleagues.
- “Policing” the Budget
Oak Bay Police Chief Mark Fisher presented the Department’s 2013 provisional budget which was approved by Council to be included in our upcoming budget estimates’ process. The Department is doing very well from a budget managment perspective and I receive much positive feedback about the delivery of our local police services overall. The Department is also in the midst of collating results from a recent community survey as part of their strategic planning process and we look forward to a report soon on the highlights of what you had to say about Oak Bay policing.
- Oak Tree Preserved
A request for Council to re-consider a permit refusal under Oak Bay’s Tree Protection bylaw was denied following a report by our municipal arbourist. Citing safety concerns, the resident wanted significant pruning done to a neighbour’s Garry Oak tree beyond what our arbourist recommended. In the municipal arbourist’s professional opinion, the extent of the pruning requested by the resident would have endangered the health and integrity of the tree. The resident’s request was therefore denied and he was encouraged to follow the arbourist’s recommended pruning plan.
- Animal Control Contract Renewed
Despite a staff report recommending otherwise, a Council majority voted to renew the existing animal control contract for services provided to Oak Bay by Victoria Animal Control Servies (VACS). I supported this approval to renew with VACS because of their proven track record in the community and in the region.VACS has served Oak Bay since 2007 (the CRD was the previous service provider) and currently provides animal control services to the municipalities of Esquimalt, City of Victoria and View Royal, among others. We had strong letters of support for VACS from Oak Bay residents and other jurisdictions. The CRD and VACS both bid on the contract and while the CRD came in about $14,000 less, improvements to revenue generation from the sale of dog licences in Oak Bay is up by 43% since VACS took over the contract from the CRD in 2007. I must point out that VACS has achieved this signficant increase in licencing revenue without any increase to Oak Bay’s licencing fees. Our Municipal Treasurer also reported earlier this month that collected dog licence revenue was at 109.85% of the yearly forecast as of August 31. Other factors that influenced my decision were the close in town location of VACS’ animal shelter (on David St.), VACS’ holistic approach to animal care, their “live person” telephone response to distress/emergency calls (rather than an answering machine), their emphasis on public education and their tremendous efforts to build community goodwill among Oak Bay’s residents and pet owners. The high calibre of their work was also referenced in the Windsor Dog Park report to Council earlier this year. It’s clear to me that VACS earned another three-year contract and that the quality of their services, combined with revenue generation, offsets their slightly higher bid. As I said at the meeting, “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.”