- Report on Outdoor Burning
In response to a suggestion from some residents to allow open burning, such as beach fires in special circumstances, the Oak Bay Fire Chief attended to support a staff report on what other municipalities allow related to outdoor burning, compared with Oak Bay’s bylaw. There was wide-ranging discussion concluding with a motion to include wording in the bylaw that would address special circumstances, such as First Nations and other cultural observances, and alleviate the onus on Council to assess whether or not a request would be “a community benefit.” I believe that this issue is more related to public health and safety, as opposed to a subjective values’ based decision.
I asked if Oak Bay’s fire permits (there are very few requests per year) had fees attached and learned that there are no fees associated with burning permits. Council also discussed the possibility of delegating the permitting process to the Oak Bay Fire Department, in collaboration with administrative staff. I voted with Council to ask for a staff report that will be explore and discuss fee structure (as in some other municipalities), as well as the implications of delegated authority for permitting to the fire department and municipal administration. In the end, Council also agreed that allowing beach fires generally is not conducive to public health and safety because of the obvious problems they can create, as cited by the Fire Chief.
- Request for Funding on Watershed Plan for Bowker Creek
I voted with Council to approve a request from the CRD to continue shared funding with Saanich and the City of Victoria, to support the Coordinator position that oversees and monitors the Bowker Creek Watershed Implementation Plan. Although the request was for three years of funding, it was agreed that it should be reviewed each year in the context of Oak Bay’s annual budgeting process. The Municipal Treasurer confirmed that this year’s funds are already in the 2013 budget.
- Tour de Victoria Cycle Race
I voted with Council to approve a request for street closures on September 22, 2013, for the Tour de Victoria Cycling Race. This year, Ryder Hesjedal will also participate, giving the event great profile and a real boost.
- Learning Environmental Stewardship Early
I voted with Council to approve a request from the Gonzales Preschool to undertake public park and beach clean-up in and around our area on March 2, 2013. What a great way to instill in children a sense of responsiblity for our natural environment!
- Mayor’s Remarks
In his opening remarks, the Mayor mentioned that the municipality will explore bringing in a qualified planning consultant to work with Oak Bay to address issues related to the Clive Drive re-development proposal. In consultation with the municipality, the contractor would be asked to consider a variety of issues that include housing agreements as part of the Regional Growth Strategy and parking, both of which were raised at the January 21st Committee of the Whole meeting. This is good news from my perspective, given that I have been asking for the past year for this kind of expertise to assist us with broader community planning and major land use decisions that speak to Oak Bay’s context and address public concerns.