I have been honoured to lead two councils that have achieved so much in so little time. Below is a description of some of the many accomplishments over the last seven years.
Sound Fiscal Management
• At the end of 2017 Oak Bay had $45 million on hand – made up of reserves for infrastructure projects such as the Uplands Sewer Separation Project, cash on hand and working capital.
• Oak Bay has very little debt – about $2millions from the rebuild of the Oak Bay Rec Centre.
• Our recreation services have one of BC’s highest rates of financial recovery.
• We have attracted significant grants from senior governments – approximately $4.6 million in 2017-18. These grants have been for infrastructure renewal and energy efficiency.
Over the past seven years Council has spent millions renewing and replacing infrastructure.
Planning for the Future
• Oak Bay is one of BC’s leaders in planning for infrastructure renewal.
• One of the first steps in infrastructure renewal was initiated in 2011-14 when the District directed staff to prepare grant eligible shovel-ready applications to access provincial and federal funding
• In the last two years Oak Bay has received approx. $4.6 million project grants for long-awaited upgrades – this helped the bottom line appreciably.
• In 2015 Council set a clear strategic direction to develop Oak Bay’s first comprehensive Asset Management Plan.
• In 2015 as a first step information gathering on the state of water and sewer pipes was expanded.
• In 2016 information was gathered on the state of municipal buildings and a building needs analysis was completed.
• In 2017 consultant’s report on Asset Management to Council was completed.
• In 2018 Council adopted the staff recommended Assessment Policy and Strategy for infrastructure renewal.
We have made steady progress.
The next step is to adopt a long term plan in 20 year increments. Knowing the amount required for the first 20 year period we will be in a good position to determine through a community dialogue the best approach to funding the plan:
1) by developing more reserves
2) increasing taxes
3) borrowing or a combination of the three methods.
• Upland Sewer Separation
In 2016 Council committed to Oak Bay’s biggest ever public works project: approx. $20 million to separate the sewer pipes in the Uplands. Currently a single pipe carries both sanitary wastewater and rain water. This causes sanitary waste to spill onto our beaches during heavy rain storms. Approximately $7 million has been set aside for this project. A grant of $324,958 was received recently for the design phase. We have applied for a $2 million grant to start the project in 2019.
• New Infrastructure Reserve Fund
In 2017 Council set up a new general infrastructure reserve fund. Part of the annual Gas Tax Grant (approximately $600,000) was placed in the reserve fund – the remaining approx. $200,000 was used for 2017 infrastructure renewal such as sidewalks.
• Water Redundancy Project
A grant of approximately $1.2 million was used to complete a water redundancy project to build a second water supply to south Oak Bay.
• New Child Care Facilities
Working with the School Board we operate the Neighbourhood Learning Centre which provides
– 25 full time chair spaces
– 16 preschool spaces
– 178 out-of-school car
• Renewal of Henderson Recreation Centre
With the help of a $373,718 provincial grant the Henderson Recreation Centre was renovated in 2014.
• Bike Lanes
Oak Bay was given a $78,000 provincial grant to implement its first major bike lane project.
Arts and Cultural development
I am particularly proud of our community’s enthusiastic embrace of the work our Arts Laureate and our addition of Culture to the mandate of the Parks and Recreation.
In 2012 Oak Bay Council appointed Canada’s first municipal Arts Laureate, Barbara Adams. Working with the Arts Advisory Committee and community arts groups Ms. Adams has transformed the art scene in Oak Bay. Every year there are new art installations throughout Oak Bay. The painted pianos have been a big hit.
Working with the community our staff for the past 4 years have organized the Arts and Culture Fortnights with includes free summer concerts, outdoor movies and the Bowker Creek Brush Up. The 2018 Brush Up attracted an estimated 4,000 art lovers. We also now have regular music events at the recreation centre
Every year since the appointment of the Arts Laureate Oak Bay Council has acquired public art. To date we have acquired 7 magnificent pieces.
Council contributed $1 million to the construction of the Dave Dunnett Community Theatre – a 420 seat facility at Oak Bay High School.
Oak Bay has cooperated with the Canadian College for the Performing Arts to put on a Remembrance production.
As Chair of the Oak Bay Police Board I have been involved in joint meeting with other regional mayors in an effort to create greater integration of specialized police services.
One major advance has been the agreement to move to a central dispatch system for all police agencies in the region – municipal and RCMP. Building is underway currently to construct a central 911 call centre and dispatch service.
Community Planning and Protection
Protecting our neighbourhood, heritage and environment requires planning and commitment. The last two Councils had taken great strides in all three areas:
• A new community plan which creates a vision for Oak Bay for generations to come – this was the first new community plan in over 25 years
• A Strategic Heritage Plan that aims at protecting and celebrating our built and natural heritage. In one year alone five heritage houses were added to the protection registry
• An Urban Forest Strategy that recreates new protections and enhancements for our tree canopy
Opening Municipal Hall
Since 2011 your Council has worked hard to open up municipal hall and make access to information and meeting much easier. Innovations include:
• Live streaming of Council and Committee meetings (Archived videos of the meetings are also available online)
• New dynamic website with online reports and meeting agendas
• Improved public engagement using open houses, surveys, workshops and public meetings to develop Council decisions for
– Uplands sewer separation project
– Official Community Plan
-Urban Forest Strategy
-Floor Ratio Committee
• Open mic time at every regular Council meeting
• New informal format for Committee of Whole meetings where people who want to speak join Council at the table
• Open Budget meeting and online citizen budgeting
Building relationships with First Nations
• Supporting and funding the Welcome Pole at Oak Bay High School
• Council met on three occasions with the Songhees and Esquimalt First Nations.
• Including First Nations in the Remembrance Day Cenotaph ceremony.
• Worked with Songhees Nation Chief Sam on several issues of mutual interest such as the recognition of the Uplands as a National Heritage site and deer.
In 2017 Oak Bay achieved carbon neutrality in its municipal operations. This is three years ahead of our BC Climate Change Charter pledge to be carbon neutral by 2020.
In 2018 Oak Bay was recognized as a Climate Leader by the joint Provincial-Union of BC Municipalities’ Green Committee.
This achievement was as a result of Council policies and an incredibly dedicated staff seeking energy reductions everywhere.
Some of the specific steps we have taken:
• Energy efficient street lighting
• Energy efficiencies at the Oak Bay Recreation Centre such as the way the pool is heated (and lighting at the tennis bubble: delete this as it is covered below)
• Use of hybrid vehicles and bicycles by the OB Police
• Energy efficient lighting at the tennis bubble resulted in significant energy savings
• A heat exchanger to transfer energy between the pool and the hockey rink – Oak received a federal green grant of $668,069 to save energy and greenhouse gas emissions.
Following an extensive CRD review of deer management practices Oak Bay became the first and only urban community to commit to a deer reduction program.
In 2014 Oak Bay Council voted unanimously to conduct a pilot project. The Province, who are responsible for deer management, would only grant permission to use one method of population reduction: a cull.
The cull took place over two weeks in 2015. Eleven deer were captured and euthanized. At the time there was only one person in all of BC qualified to conduct the cull. He travelled from Cranbrook but was only available to supply his services for a two week period. The Province had granted a permit to remove 25 deer.
After evaluation and review of the lessons learned Oak Bay entered into a partnership in 2017 with the newly formed Urban Wildlife Stewardship Society (UWSS). The Province by this time was prepared to approve non-lethal deer reduction programs such as the birth control inoculation proposed by UWSS. The Province also allowed a deer re-location project in the Kootenays – the results of which are still being assessed. It is unknown if the Province will allow re-location elsewhere.
The UWSS received funding for the birth control program from Oak Bay and the Province. It is hoped inoculations can begin in the fall of 2018.
I continue to be very concerned about the risks to public safety that result from the rapid escalation of the urban deer population. I am working with both Victoria and Saanich to develop a regional response as this issue affects all our communities and that an effective response will require regional cooperation.