A trio of committees will likely disband as Oak Bay makes tweaks to its advisory groups.
Municipal staff recommend disbanding the environmental advisory committee, active transportation advisory committee and the community initiatives committee, and addressing those issues within existing initiatives and expertise on other boards such as the proposed new advisory planning commission.
“We’re trying to make sure as we move forward that we use all of those lenses,” said Helen Koning, chief administrative officer for Oak Bay.
With implementation of the official community plan instated last year a top priority, council asked staff late in 2014 to consider options for creating an advisory body.
ATAC chair Kris Nichols told council he understands the need for change, but asked that the three years spent working on surveys, researching and preparing grant applications not be wasted.
“What this committee did, I don’t want to lose that,” Nichols said. “I will miss sitting around the table … but I’m sure there will be other things to do.”
Both committees provided heavy lifting in creating Oak Bay’s current OCP.
“I’m very proud of the work we’ve done and am hoping some of those very recommendations to council are still going to be on the table,” said Ron Carter, acting chair of the EAC.
Mayor Nils Jensen, in a sentiment echoed around the table, agreed staff was proposing a “good model” and Oak Bay could still draw in the community expertise on other boards or specific projects.
“I’m very impressed with the work that they’ve done and I think we need to build on that,” Jensen said.
The committee chose to have staff create a terms of reference to establish an advisory planning committee.
Decisions made at committee meetings are recommendations that go back to council for reconsideration or ratification.
Change is in the air
The board of variance would see an addition of staff support. The Allan Cassidy Recognition of Renovation and Building Achievement Awards panel would be incorporated with the advisory design panel which would clarify its mandate and add a member of council to the panel. The heritage commission would see no change.
Staff felt similarly Oak Bay could disband, again with thanks, its community initiatives committee and incorporate those initiatives into the portfolio of an expanded parks, recreation and culture mandate. The proposed name change to the parks and recreation commission is to reflect the ‘culture’ it appears to already provide through programming.
“Enhancing the profile of culture in the municipality beyond what is currently undertaken by the CIC may require increasing staff resources in the parks and recreation department. Should this be the case, staff will bring forward a recommendation to be considered in the estimates committee process in this regard,” wrote Koning in her report to the committee of the whole.