It was gratifying to welcome nearly 30 residents to the Monterey Centre this past Thursday night, for Oak Bay’s first Neighbourhood Meeting. While the venue posed some acoustical challenges and seating was “a work in progress,” I am grateful to residents, Council colleagues and staff for attending and participating.
The Mayor asked me to facilitate this meeting and it was a distinct pleasure for me to do so. I shared with the audience some ground rules for the process, emphasizing that Council does not debate issues, make decisions or commitments and is there to listen. The results of the meeting are recorded for public information and for posting on the website.
The Neighbourhood Meeting concept was a suggestion that I brought to Oak Bay during the last election and was reinforced earlier this year by members of the municipal Community Engagement Working Group. I understand that neighbourhood meetings will now be implemented on a more regular basis, hopefully quarterly, for the remainder of this Council’s term.
Neighbourhood meetings are a great opportunity for Council members to sit down informally together with you to learn and hear about what is on your mind. There is no set agenda and in my experience, residents provide content while Council members comment where appropriate.
We appreciated the positive ideas and suggestions you shared with us, ranging from improvements to local transportation to more flexible hours at the municipal yard (Oak Bay dump). Such good ideas can now go forward to a Committee of the Whole for further consideration and discussion, ensuring that the process remains transparent.
Thanks to all of you who took the time to attend and express your willingness to share with us your good ideas. These meetings reflect community grass roots’ democracy at its very best and I look forward to the next one. As one resident put it, this was the first time in years that she felt that there was an opportunity to feel truly heard by her local government.