January 14 Council Meeting Highlights

  • Mayor’s Report

Mayor Jensen reported out on three events — the new Henderson Rec Centre groundbreaking on January 15; Oak Bay Fire Department Deputy Chief’s participation in earthquake awareness, “The Great Shake-Out;” and, the Tourism Committee’s new website launch on January 14.

  • Report on Bowker Water Main Break

A comprehensive report to the public and to Council on the Bowker Street flooding was reviewed and received by Council.  The report makes a series of corrective recommendations that will hopefully avert any future events of this kind.  Mayor and Council acknowledged the impact on residents and expressed deep regret that this event caused such hardship and anxiety. 

I asked a series of questions relating to how corrective recommendations in the report will be integrated with current practices, monitored for effectiveness and updated regularly to ensure that safeguards are consistently in place and staff are oriented to best practices and current communications information.  I also asked about budget allocation for portable data devices that will enable staff to compare what they witness in the field with Oak Bay’s GIS-water network. 

I emphasized the importance of developing and implementing written policy that will guide practices and ensure that existing and new staff are well oriented, especially related to communications protocol for emergency responses.  Related to Oak Bay’s Emergency Program Coordinator, I asked about a contingency plan in the event he/she is away at the time an event occurs.  I was assured by the Deputy Fire Chief that he and the Chief will be the point persons for all such emergency-related incidents.

We were also assured that the Fire Department will record, update and maintain all corrective processes in the future.  A further report by March 31, 2013 will be made to Council that provides an update on the status of corrective actions recommended in the report.

  • Parking Studies Reviewed for New High School

Detailed reports on parking and traffic management were submitted by the School District related to impacts from new high school construction and operations.  Council members had process questions related to oversight, involvement of the municipal Active Transportation Advisory Committee, potential impacts for the Parks and Recreation Commission and funding implications for the municipality.  A three-part motion addressing these issues was made and approved and School District personnel will be asked to attend a future meeting to address questions.

  • Business Improvement Association (BIA) Request Approved in Principle

In an effort to demonstrate continued support for the good work that the BIA does on behalf of its members and Oak Bay, their request for additional storage on municipal property was approved in principle, contingent on staff’s exploring all options related to location, cost and occupancy.  The BIA has requested to locate a storage container on a specific site (Scout Hall at Carnarvon is proposed) that is cost-effective and convenient.  Staff will work with the BIA to develop an appropriate permitting process and make recommendations to Council that will accommodate the BIA’s storage needs and balance the needs of the municipality and adjacent residents to the proposed location.

  • Barking Up the Right Tree

A resolution brought by Councillor Tara Ney for a new Oak Bay Urban Forest Strategy was approved in principle.  Involving Oak Bay Parks and our Arbourist Chris Hyde-Lay, the strategy will help to ensure that losses to Oak Bay’s tree canopy and urban forests are further mitigated through a more comprehensive and targeted inventory and replacement program. 

I learned during the discussion that 80% of tree loss in our municipality is caused from dead, diseased and dying trees.  Our replacement program for public lands continues and a further analysis of tree loss based on per centages will be explored by staff.  The example of Rockland Ave. was used to demonstrate a 35% coverage rate, which I understand from Mr. Hyde-Lay is an ideal. 

I believe that the intent of a new strategy is consistent with what Oak Bay residents and interest groups have long expressed related to Oak Bay tree protection and replacement.  This strategy is in my view a great next step toward better protecting and replacing trees on public lands.

  • New Parking and Taxi Amenities

Traffic control on Oak Bay Ave. and parking in front of the new Oak Bay Beach Hotel were addressed when Council passed two new orders, one to enable cabs to drop off fares across the street from the Wilmot/Oak Bay Ave. intersection (space currently also used by the Oak Bay Police) and fifteen minute parking permitted outside the Oak Bay Beach Hotel.  Both of these amenities will have a twofold benefit — convenience and better public access to commercial activities on Oak Bay Ave. and to the new hotel.

  • Environment Committee Minutes

Minutes from July through October 2012 Environment Committee meetings were received.  I noted from the October minutes that discussion at the Committee involved the potential for extending hours at the Public Works yard for better access to the municipal dump.  I gather this has been an ongoing item for a number of years and was also raised at the first Neighbourhood Meeting this last November when a resident asked if summer hours could be extended to 8:00 PM one night a week, to accommodate those who work during the day and cannot access the dump after hours. Staff agreed to look into options, including costing and potential impact on neighbours, should any alterations be suggested.


Next Committee of the Whole Meeting:  January 21, 2013 at 7:00 in Council Chambers