I was pleased to be invited to attend and speak at the Community Association of Oak Bay’s AGM April 6th, where the focus of this year’s meeting was community planning and Oak Bay’s Official Community Plan (OCP) renewal process.
Keynote speaker was freelance urban planner Kelly Gesner, who provided an inside look at community planning and the OCP process generally. Attending and listening for me was a great primer to what our Oak Bay community will be involved in through our OCP renewal — at the top of many people’s minds were topics of transportation (parking, cycling, traffic management and pedestrian traffic), housing options (affordable, accessible and diverse), environmental sustainability and community and urban planning in general.
Again this year, it was pointed out by a member of the audience that Oak Bay does not have a qualified urban planner on staff. This of course has been a consistent concern of mine, one that I have expressed openly and publicly many times. Kelly Gesner agrees that creating a new Official Community Plan as a dynamic living document will require it to be anchored to a strong planning department that has the qualified planning resources to fully implement the Plan and take on the next steps with other municipal regs and guidelines, such as the zoning bylaw, to ensure that they are harmonized with the new Plan.
I am grateful to CAOB for their efforts on so many levels to educate, inform and engage Oak Bay residents through their meetings, their website and especially through the Oak Bay Connector. The Association makes a significant and important contribution to this community and my hat is off to them for providing such an important and effective voice on behalf of their members and others. A special thanks to Tom and Jill Croft for pulling the Association together some years ago and for keeping it going and growing.