My week started at 8:00 a.m. with three site visits to the Uplands (as member of the Uplands Land Use Committee) to view properties that are the subject of building permit applications. These site visits are informative and reflect the cooperative relationship that often exists between the property owner, Uplands Advisory Design Panel and the municipality.
- New Oak Bay Website Goes Live
It all started with last year’s election campaign and public demand for a better, more modern and interactive website, a need that I talked about during the campaign and advocated once I was elected. In January of this year, I chaired the Community Engagement Working Group that produced a final report recommending at the top of its list, a new website. Councillors Kirby and Murdoch were tasked with leading a website committee of volunteers, anchored by Oak Bay staff member Fernando Pimentel, to scope out the work and hire a consultant.
UPANUP Consulting produced the new website and launched it at this week’s meeting. What a great improvement! Please check it out by visiting www.oakbay.ca I think you will find it a much more welcoming and user-friendly site. Please take time to provide feedback and thank you.
- Active Transportation Advisory Committee Presents Plans
The Active Transportation Advisory Committee (ATAC) is indeed very active, presenting us with their recommended plan and vision for transportation in key areas of Oak Bay. Suggested areas for improvement include an East-West connector (Haultain at Foul Bay) and a North-South Pathway (Lansdowne and UVic), both of which would be designed to provide flat, safe and direct cycling corridors between Oak Bay, UVic and the Downtown core.
Ideas for Oak Bay Ave. were also floated, suggesting wider pedestrian sidewalks to accommodate those with mobility needs and challenges and improvements to make the Village center more welcoming to encourage greater community and economic activity.
The Committee also acknowledged the need for long term planning and staff capacity at the municipal level, as well as funding, to support their vision for a “complete streets” Oak Bay. ATAC is a hard-working, passionate and innovative voice for alternative transportation in Oak Bay.
- Proposed Duplex Proposal for Estevan Village Nixed
Although I voted to continue to consider this proposal and a draft bylaw specific to the site at the corner of Cadboro Bay and Estevan, there was not enough Council support to move it forward— the motion I supported was defeated 4-3. Neighbours expressed concerns about the size and massing of the proposal that they argued would impact their quiet neighbourhood. Others were concerned about spot zoning.
But according to Oak Bay’s existing Official Community Plan, the nature by which duplexes must be considered i.e. on a “case by case” basis, leaves the municipality little choice but to use spot zoning. It is important to point out that the existing Official Community Plan also calls for “tight control” on size, etc. when considering duplexes but fails to define what “tight control” really means.
I have been criticized for my support of this proposal and I will accept the criticism. I still believe that this proposal was an elegant design, well planned and well suited to the location. I reached that decision after consulting with architects, builders and planners from other communities.
I also believe that the public should always have open and free input during the public hearing process, a process that only occurs when a proposal moves slowly forward— the hearing is often the litmus test as to public sentiment on proposals of this kind.
If only we had a qualified urban planner to provide us with the vision and direction we need…