- Oak Bay Community Bike Festival
I voted with Council to approve the Oak Bay Rec Centre’s request to hold a community bike festival in Oak Bay in the fall. This was a popular event last year and provides a fun opportunity for all ages to participate in organized cycling activity.
- Block Parties Abound
I voted with Council to approve a series of requests for road closures to accommodate block parties. These are great neighbourhood events that bring everyone together and, given this amazing summer weather, what a perfect season to celebrate neighbours and community!
- Sewer Policy Generates Council Discussion
Allocation of regional sewer costs was outlined in a staff report to Council from our Municipal Treasurer.
The report states that “beginning in 2004, the Council of the day directed that 70% of municipal sewer costs, and 70% of any “new” regional sewer debt costs allocated to Oak Bay were to be funding through a user fee based on water consumption. New debt was not incurred by the CRD until 2007. The regional debt covers the following projects: North East Trunk, East Coast Interceptor, Humber and Rutland pump stations and the integrated treatment facility (in 2013, the latter project represents approximately 2/3 of the regional costs being collected through the consumption charge.”
The report goes on to say that “in 2011, Council decided that the portion of regional sewer debt costs covered by the consumption charge should be increased by 10% each year, and this was done, reaching 100% in 2013. In early 2013, the CRD Board approved a new requisition to collect funds for the treatment plant, and these funds will be reserved until they are needed. Council agreed to change its Service Fee Agreement with the CRD so that Oak Bay now covers 100% of the CRD’s costs to service sewer system debt contracted after December 31, 2004 and 100% of costs assoicated with sewage treatment infrastructure, that is to be build to meet the requirements of the Core Area Liquid Waster Management Plan. This change was necessary because the newly requisitioned money is not being collected to service debt.”
The report gave Council three options:
- Maintain the status-quo, meaning that consumption charges related to CRD sewer costs will cover 100% of new debt costs and all costs relating to the sewage treatment plant.
- Put all CRD sewage costs on the utility bill, meaning that the size of our risk of not collecting enough money to fund the costs, while reducing property tax bills and causing a net increase for those people who use a lot of water.
- Change the percentage covered by a consumption charge, meaning that by reverting back to a lower percentage of the new debt costs and sewage treatment plant costs being collected on utility bills, we increase our assurance that we will collect enough money during the year. This option will increase property taxes.
The nub of it was in the report’s conclusion that, no matter which option was chosen, “overall regional sewage costs will rise substantially in the coming years.” I voted with the Council majority to continue to support the status-quo.
- Please Fence Me In — Fencing to Protect Our Heritage Native Plant Garden
This issue came back to us with a report from staff on fencing options for the Oak Bay’s Native Plant Garden. You will recall that the Parks and Rec Commission, garden volunteers and the Heritage Commission requested that, to save the garden from the ravages of hungry deer, protective fencing for the Garden was the only option at this time.
It is well known that the garden houses a variety of heritage and rare native plants and the garden itself is seen as an important community asset and investment. I voted with the majority of Council members to table for public notice, the request for installation of a deer-proof fence especially designed to be discreet but protect the garden from further serious damage by deer. I agree that we do not want to “fence off” our community on any large scale but until and unless the deer population is reduced, I agree with many others that there are no other viable options available to us.
- Important Official Community Plan Renewal Meeting on July 25, 7:00 PM at Municipal Hall
An important meeting of the Official Community Plan Advisory Committee (OPAC) is on Thursday, July 25th at 7:00 PM. Among other items, the Committee will discuss the details of the survey questions in the draft community survey, timelines, method of reaching our rental populations and terms of reference for the ongoing role of the Committee. The consultant will be available to the meeting via conference call and the public is always welcome to attend.
NEXT MEETING DATES FOR COUNCIL AND COMMITTEE OF THE WHOLE
As you know, Oak Bay Council is now on its summer schedule, therefore, there will be only two meetings in August so please visit the Oak Bay Municipal website for details.
Regular meetings commence in September as follows:
- September 9, 7:30 PM, Council Meeting, Council Chambers
- September 23, 7:00 PM, Committee of the Whole, Council Chambers
- September 30, 7:00 PM, Council Meeting, Council Chambers
There will be no meeting on September 16 because of the annual UBCM Conference, held this year in Vancouver. I will not be attending UBCM this year, given that our son is getting married in September.
Have a wonderful August (I am on holiday) and I will re-connect with you in September.