- Long Boarding
As you know, a group of Barkley Terrace residents brought their concerns to us about long boarders using the steep street as a raceway, at a recent Committee of the Whole meeting. Their focus was public safety and reflected their worry about serious injury (or worse), for young people engaged in this sport. We learned that a follow up meeting for mid-February has been arranged by Oak Bay Police School Liaison Officer Constable Julie Chanin, who will bring together residents, young people and municipal staff to talk about the issue and educate the long board users about safety. I understand that our Engineering Director Dave Marshall is also researching other jurisdictions to learn about how they address this issue. Stay tuned…
- Update on Oak Bay Police Chief Search
The Mayor updated Council on the search process for a new Chief Constable to replace outgoing Oak Bay Police Chief Mark Fisher. The application process has closed and the Mayor indicates that there are some very strong applications. The Police Board will meet shortly to review the applications and decide next steps in the recruitment process. Stay tuned…
- No Appetite for Amalgamation Question in Oak Bay
I voted with the rest of Council to deny a request to include a question about amalgamation on the ballot during the next Municipal election in November. In the past two years as an Oak Bay Councillor, I have had only one resident raise this issue with me. I have also followed local media over the past few months on the amalgamation question and believe there is simply not enough compelling information for decision-makers or for communities, to warrant the time and expense involved to develop a referendum question.
As a two-term Councillor who previously served a rural agricultural community of just over 11,000 residents (North Saanich), amalgamation was the focus of some debate in the mid-2000’s. I opposed amalgamation at that time and subsequently undertook my own research into the issue.
In a nutshell, I learned that amalgamation is not a panacea, either as a governance model or as a cost-savings’ measure. In some cases, it appears that smaller communities lost their voice and their ability to influence decision-making in an amalgamated model. The cost of doing business, in maintaining administration and municipal infrastructure for instance, significantly increased and so did taxes, to support a much larger and more complex bureaucracy. In the case of North Saanich, where property taxes were among the lowest in the CRD and based primarily on a “user pay” model, amalgamation with larger communities had potentially negative implications for North Saanich taxpayers and for land use, specifically related to the ability of North Saanich to protect and preserve its rural and agricultural lands from over-development pressure.
My belief is that smaller communities such as Oak Bay may not be well served by an amalgamated model and until we know fully about the concept, the implications and how it might play out in this region, how can we frame the question?
- Blown Away
In response to residents’ concerns about a local golf course and excessive noise from its use of gas-powered leaf blowers at 6:00 a.m., I voted with Council to request staff to send letters to our two local golf courses, canvassing them for implications should they consider adopting the same noise bylaw provisions that regulate the use of gas-powered leaf blowers for municipal staff that restrict use to an 8:00 a.m. start time. Both golf courses have interface with homes and neighbourhoods and this close proximity is a concern for those impacted by such noise.
- Walking and Running for Good Causes
I voted with Council to approve three requests for two 5 K and 10 K marathons and a walk through Oak Bay during the month of April. Mountain Equipment Co-Op, the MS Society of Canada and the Victoria International Running Society will host these activities on April 6, 13 and 27 respectively. The Victoria International Running Society celebrates its 25th year, in conjunction with the TC10K in Victoria, and has grown remarkably in this time. Their worthwhile efforts support local and and national charities.
- My Annual Report
Council voted to receive my annual report on my Council Liaison responsibilities for the year ending December 2013. While I am still the only Council member to submit such a report, Council members thanked me for the submission. I believe reporting to Council is simply a best practice related to public accountability and information-sharing with staff and Council colleagues.
- Gracepoint Productions Transforms Oak Bay
There is much buzz about the filming in Oak Bay of the television series “Gracepoint,” modeled after the very popular British show “Broadchurch.” In a staff report prepared by Janet Barclay, Manager of Recreation Services for Oak Bay, she indicates that the production company has requested temporary location road closures for:
- 2005 Oak Bay Ave. – starting January 28
- 880 St. Patrick St. – starting January 29
- Oaks Restaurant and Grill – January 31
- Oak Bay Ave., from Monterey to Wilmot – February 10 or alternate
I voted with Council to approve this schedule, keeping in mind that some business owners on the Avenue expressed their concern about potential disruption to commercial activity during filming. Ms. Barclay assured Council that the production company is being diligent about consultation with her (Ms. Barclay also manages film activity for Oak Bay) and is using the parking lot at the Oak Bay Marina to park trucks, equipment and vehicles, thereby minimizing impacts in the Village.
I agree with Council and staff that this production puts Oak Bay on the map internationally, helps boost our local economy and enhances our reputation as a fantastic location destination for the film industry. And stargazing will not be limited to the skies above Cattle Point — watch for “stars” along the Avenue or in our neighbourhoods!