They say “better late than never.” My apologies for being nearly two weeks late with these postings but it has been a hectic schedule, with additional budget estimate meetings during the last 3 weeks and two conferences that I attended on behalf of Oak Bay, on successive weekends, one in Vancouver and one in Parksville/Qualicum.
- Two homeowners requested designation of their heritage homes on Bowker and Transit, applications that were enthusiastically received and referred to the Heritage Commission for its recommendations. I was pleased to vote with other Council colleagues to move these applications forward, given that heritage designation and registration are significant positive steps to recognizing homes and properties of historical value in our community. I am also impressed with the work of our Oak Bay Heritage volunteers who reach out to homeowners to encourage and inform them about the benefits of registration and designation.
- I voted with Council to move forward to the Advisory Design Panel, an application to build a duplex on the corner of Estevan and Cadboro Bay Rd., kitty corner to the small commercial centres on both sides of Cadboro Bay Rd. This application was submitted in 2012 but not moved ahead at that time. The applicants have since reconfigured the plans and reduced the size to conform with residential RS-5 zoning, with the exception of a requested amendment for two-family use. We know that as a result of the OCP community survey, there is support for consideration of a diversity of housing types in the municipality and there are currently numerous non-confirming duplexes throughout Oak Bay. It is worth noting that there are four existing duplexes in this same block, massing and scale for this application have been reduced and setbacks have been expanded. I believe that this proposal has merit.
- The Active Transportation Advisory Committee was acknowledged for its concerted efforts over the past year, culminating in a one-day workshop on April 12th that drew a good audience and where residents were asked for their input on how Oak Bay can improve and enhance transportation on its streets, in its village centres and in neighbourhoods. Stay tuned for the workshop results.
- During reports from other committees, we learned that there will be the YES Awards ceremony at the Rec Centre on May 7 at 7:00 PM and tickets are $20 and an Open House at the Monterey Centre on May 31. Please visit the municipal website for more details.
- I voted with Council to appoint Mr. Gary Nason and Ms. Loranne Hilton as Election Officers for the next municipal election on November 15, 2014.
- I voted with Council to adopt Bylaw No. 4611, Streets and Traffic Bylaw, to add Barkley Terrace, Sylvan Lane and Denison Road, to the list of existing streets on which skateboarding and long boarding are prohibited for health and safety reasons.
- I voted to approve referrals to Council for two building permit applications on Beach Drive and Dorset Road. I also attended with the Director of Building and Planning, both sites beforehand, as a member of the Uplands Land Use Committee.
- It was a marathon session until nearly 11:30 PM, Chambers were packed with residents and we received over 100 pieces of correspondence, all related to an application from St. Michaels University Junior School, to build a new school on the existing site on Victoria Avenue. The proposal is impressive in its design as a “21st Century school,” but unresolved neighbourhood issues over traffic volume, congestion, parking and safety, compelled me to make a motion to defer the application until the school completes a traffic safety and demand study, a key piece missing from the proposal in my opinion. Many neighbours spoke to traffic problems, citing them as longstanding issues (first identified in 1985) between neighbours and the school. As the school has grown, so have traffic problems but, more recently, relations appear to have soured to the point where verbal conflicts between residents and school parents are not uncommon. School officials have tried to mediate but with limited success, according to residents. The current situation is unfortunate because a new school should be an exciting event, one that serves to build a greater sense of community. There were also other concerns expressed by adjacent neighbours, specific to height and proximity, of a new wall the school proposes to build on the north side of the property. In general, while the school has made concerted efforts to consult with the community over the past year, including four open houses, the relationship with the neighbourhood appears tenuous. I am hopeful that through additional analysis of traffic patterns, consideration of access to the school site from Falkland Road and further assessment of impacts of a wall to the north, positive solutions can be reached and the goal of all stakeholders working together to address common concerns can be achieved. A new school holds great promise for the future of students, families and our community
- Residents on Granite Street seemed pleased with the results of a staff report and our approval of recommendations to mitigate some of the traffic and pedestrian problems on Granite. I spent time last week walking the street with concerned residents who have been frustrated by a steady increase in traffic speed and volume through their residential neighbourhood. More frequent closures on Oak Bay Ave., an increase of delivery trucks to Athlone Court and adjacent businesses and outstanding hazards at Brighton and Hampshire have all contributed to what residents describe as an intolerable situation. Since 2005, they have been complaining to the municipality about their concerns but until now, they indicate that little had been done to address the issue, despite the efforts of police and our department of engineering to monitor the situation. But now, the municipality will take steps to calm traffic and re-examine the situation. Residents also suggest a traffic study of the entire area, from Foul Bay Rd. to Monterey and from Oak Bay Ave. to Windsor Rd. I understand that such a study will not be possible in this budget cycle but I am hopeful that current steps will bring the neighbourhood some relief over the next year.