Oak Bay Mayor Nils Jensen sees a balance of challenge and celebration in 2015.
The dirty aspects of municipal business, including local and regional sewage concerns, will be tempered by joyful events such as the opening of the new Oak Bay High and introducing yet more arts to Oak Bay.
“The big challenge is to deal with what’s going to happen at the CRD with sewage treatment. Sewage treatment will be one of the biggest financial impacts once it comes online that Oak Bay has seen in years. It’s important we manage our budget prudently in anticipation of that,” Jensen said.
“There are other challenges that face us that are neither sexy nor exciting but essential,” he added.
Separation of sewers in Upland, where homes have always been serviced by one pipe, is moving forward.
“We’ve taken the first step, to do surveys,” Jensen said. “Engineering studies are underway and the next step will be for council to decide what option they want to proceed forward with.”
It too is a process years in the making with plans to spread the work out over a number of years.
Oak Bay High used its first finished brand new gym to welcome the Tour de Rock riders this fall then followed with a boys basketball tournament last month. By September, the community will boast the official opening of the new Oak Bay High.
“That’ll be a huge event and a huge celebration, as we not only celebrate and say goodbye to the old school, but celebrate the neighbourhood learning centre with daycare and other community facilities,” Jensen said. Among the highlights are the new community theatre.
“The community has come together. The contribution we [as a district] made of $1 million has allowed the theatre to proceed. Otherwise it wouldn’t have,” Jensen said. “The aspect of the theatre will add to the growing awareness of the arts in Oak Bay.”
He sees another arts laureate appointed for the coming term and the community building on the high-profile Gracepoint series that filmed here as well as other films that “have come as a result of that.”
“We have six vibrant successful art galleries in the village,” he added. “It’s all coming together to make Oak Bay a cultural hub of the CRD.”
Perhaps the largest project that will get a start in 2015 is implementation of the official community plan. It should get to a roaring start with newly appointed planner Debra Jensen slated to start early in the new year.
“Last term the main goal for council was to develop and pass a community plan, which we did. The next big step will be implementation in keeping with the community plan and the multi-year implementation strategy,” Jensen said. “I think it will be one of the top goals we have.”