- Special Committee of the Whole Meeting of September 25
Related to the build of the new Oak Bay High School, the largest capital works project in Oak Bay, a special Committee of the Whole meeting heard a strong presentation from the municipality’s Active Transportation Advisory Committee (ATAC), input from the Oak Bay Parks and Recreation Commission and a received a report from Oak Bay’s Director of Engineering Services, on suggested transportation needs for the project. Representatives from the Greater Victoria School District also attended to answer questions.
There was consensus on the importance of connecting the new high school campus to our community, as a “community within a community.” As the School District stated, they see the project through a school lens but I pointed out that the municipality sees it through a community lens, which is why community input is absolutely critical to the success of the project.
Items discussed in the presentation and questions raised later focused on:
- Oak Bay High development as one of four major planning/implementation goals identified by ATAC
- Cycle lanes and cycle parking
- Options for pedestrians
- Bowker Creek Trail
We also heard that careful transportation planning for Cadboro Bay Road in particular, a major transportation corridor, requires creating transportation infrastructure that will last for many decades, such as the Elgin Pathway, transit shelters, cycle lanes and parking and vehicle pull-ins in and around the school related to student transportation and traffic management.
In a staff report, comments and recommendations were noted from the municipality’s Director of Engineering Services, ATAC and the Parks and Recreation Advisory Committee. Commentary related to the following topics:
- Vehicular ingress and egress and parking on the site overall
- Parking specific to the Oak Bay Rec Centre
- School pathways and their connections to Oak Bay municipal infrastructure
- Bowker Creek pathway
- Cycle lanes on Cadboro Bay Rd.
- Goldsmith parking lot and east side pathway
- Construction activity, such as lighting, noise mitigation, screening etc.
The staff report was received for information and a request by Council was made of the School District, to submit their application with the full design as soon as it is available. I asked questions of the School District related to the availability of ongoing information, suggesting that the advisory committee established some time ago that includes the Mayor and Councilors Ney and Kirby, should be convened on a regular basis to ensure that the community is represented and information is updated and shared. Council agreed.
The ATAC presentation and the staff report from the Director of Engineering Services was received for information. Stay tuned…
- September 26 Official Community Plan Advisory Committee (OPAC) Meeting
Chaired by Councilor Pam Copley, the first fall meeting of OPAC included the following items:
- OCP Survey Questionnaire Status Update
A/CAO Gary Nason reported out the status of the community survey questionnaire. You may know that due to a glitch with the research firm based in Abbotsford, envelopes sent in the first mail-out to Oak Bay households approximately 10 days ago, had no recognizable return address or other marking that alerted residents to the contents i.e. OCP survey questionnaire document. The mail-out was from the research firm hired to conduct the survey.
On Monday, September 23, when staff first became aware of the problem, they took immediate steps to address the error, amend all online information and update newspaper ads. Despite this early hiccup, the questionnaire response rate seems strong and I am encouraged.
The latest report indicates that 768 residents have accessed the web survey and 682 have completed it. Average time to complete is 22.3 minutes, although completion time varies with some 35 respondents taking about an hour to complete. 145 paper surveys have been requested and will be mailed shortly. Requests for paper surveys were still coming in at the time of this update.
The current target date for a second mail-out, to those who have not yet accessed online or by hard copy, is October 10 so please watch for the mail-out envelope, which this time will be clearly stamped to tell you that its contents relate to the OCP survey questionnaire.
I know that the municipality appreciates your patience during this process. Remember, this is the first major renewal of Oak Bay’s OCP in three decades so there will be some growing pains given the significance of this project.
- Other OPAC News
The Advisory Committee will resume monthly meetings on the fourth Thursday of each month. These meetings are open to the public, and the next meeting is scheduled for October 24th, 7:00 PM, in Municipal Chambers.
Staff informed us that the consulting firm undertaking the renewal process, Catherine Berris Associates LTD., will be merging with Urban Systems LTD., effective December 31, 2013. Municipal staff assured OPAC that this planned merger will have no impact whatsoever on the current contract we have with Ms. Berris and, in fact, may give us access to a greater number of resources to support Oak Bay’s renewal process.
Once the survey questionnaire phase of the process is completed and results tabulated and analyzed by the research firm, community open houses will be scheduled and advertised and results shared. By the way, I would like to point out that, to ensure privacy, validity of information and to keep all data clean, all information and related data are managed by the consultant and the research firm. As an industry standard, this practice avoids any real or perceived interference, political or otherwise, in the security of information and data.
On the recommendation of staff, the role of OPAC will expand to include general policy review as the OCP process continues. This recommendation will be taken to Council for approval.
If you have any questions or comments, please feel free to contact municipal staff and/or Council members. Thank you.