- Oak Bay Council Resolution Passes Unanimously
A resolution calling for an environmental assessment of the CRD’s proposed land-based sewage treatment plan for the urban core, originally put forward by Oak Bay’s Environment Committee, passed unanimously. I voted to support this resolution, believing that the lack of an environmental impact study has been a gaping hole in the regional proposal. I understand that the reasons for no environmental study, according to the CRD, are because the Province in 2006 ordered the CRD to treat its sewage (required by law) and the Federal government doesn’t require such a study.I have been concerned too about the absence of public debate and consultation related to this project, although I understand that all reports, studies and related materials to date are accessible to the public through the CRD website. These are also some of the hot-button issues generating public and political dialogue across the region. CRD’s outgoing CAO Kelly Daniels and Sewage Project Manager Jack Hull (formerly of the CRD) attended our meeting to address questions. My questions were:
- A letter circulated to homeowners alleges that Oak Bay taxpayers could pay upwards of $800 annually for sewage — true or false?
Mr. Hull states that this is not correct information and that Oak Bay’s share will be slightly less than $400 annually. I am told that $391 per household is currently the proposed cost for Oak Bay taxpayers.
- Does each municipality have options on how it recovers from taxpayers the cost related to sewage treatment?
Yes, according to Mr. Hull. Municipalities can determine how they will collect the annual levy, with options ranging from integrated water billing to an additional tax increase. Municipalities can also build reserve funds that result in borrowing less over the long term and/or subsidizing taxpayers once the system is operational (in about 10 years).
- The Federal government recently provided information related to environmental science and our local ocean — can Oak Bay receive a copy?
Mr. Hull states that he is not aware of such information, apart from a recent letter from the Federal Minister of Environment, stating that there are no provisions within Federal regulations permitting an exemption from requirements to treat our sewage. I asked that if such information is forthcoming, would the CRD please share this with locally affected communities such as Oak Bay and Mr. Hull indicated yes.Thanks to three members of the public who attended and also spoke to the issue, two of whom support sewage treatment as proposed. We also recieved correspondence from residents opposing the sewage treatment plan for the region. FYI, Councillor John Herbert is our Council Liaison to the CRD’s liquid waste management committee and has been involved since the mid-2000’s.
- Application Declined
An application to renovate and bring into compliance a pre-existing but non-conforming duplex on St. Patrick St. was declined by Council and I voted to support the motion, not because I don’t support the proposal but because the owner states that their plans are not urgent and they intend to renovate the property over time. They agreed therefore to apply again once the Official Community Plan review is completed late next year. I hope that the OCP review will enable Oak Bay to develop a housing strategy that provides some well planned housing options and reflects the community’s current and future housing needs.
- Tree Requires Further Assessment
A large protected Garry Oak tree on a neighbour’s property that is alleged to pose a safety hazard will go back to the Parks Dept. and Oak Bay’s arbourist for another assessment, related to ongoing tree health and public safety. How best to trim the tree and gauge how the tree’s owner feels about mitigating any hazard through trimming will be included in the report.
- Active Transportation Committee
The Committee will give a presentation and make a bid for its budget at the November 19th Committee of the Whole Meeting.
- A Burning Issue
The Royal Victoria Yacht Club was granted Council approval of its request for a burning permit to celebrate with a bonfire, the Sea of Lights Event on December 7, 2012, at or near Willows Beach. This prompted a subsequent motion from Councillor Michelle Kirby, requesting a staff report from our Fire Dept. on open burning practices in other communities.Councillor Kirby reports that a number of young families have raised with her the fact that there is no open burning permitted on Willows or on other beaches in Oak Bay that would enable a hot dog roast or related individual family beach activities. I asked that Councillor Kirby’s motion be refined to reflect open burning practices in “urban” communities, given that there are significant differences between urban and rural communities related to open burning practices/regulations. The motion passed unanimously.
- New High School Moves Ahead
A series of bylaws was adopted by a Council majority to enable the new Oak Bay High School re-development to move ahead. Despite earlier concerns about parking and traffic, I voted to support adoption of the bylaws because I recognize that this is a significant community asset that will leave a legacy to families and others for generations to come. As well, the School District, through a formal letter, has committed to working in collaboration with neighbours, the municipality and other stakeholders to address any ongoing concerns/issues during and after construction.I understand that this project has been planned for some years and has involved extensive community consultation, culminating in last night’s Council decision to adopt bylaws that regulate overall land use in and around the school site.
- 0.5% Increase Awarded to Council Members’ Annual Stipend
Pursuant to an existing bylaw adopted in 1997 that regulates what Oak Bay Council members earn, Council unanimously approved a 0,5% increase to their annual remuneration, based on Greater Victoria’s annual cost of living index. FYI, the cost of living index fluctuates and Oak Bay still, on average, compares more than favourably with other communities of similar size and type, most of which tend to award their Council members slightly greater remuneration. FYI, the Oak Bay Mayor now earns $28,193. annually and Council members earn $11,965. annually.NOTE ABOUT DECEMBER MEETINGS: Council and Committee of the Whole Meetings for December are as follows, a departure from our normal schedule so please mark your calendars: Monday, December 3, 2012 at 7:00 PM Committee of the Whole
Monday, December 10, 3012 at 7:30 PM Council