“That’s just one of many changes,” said Oak Bay councillor Kevin Murdoch.
Murdoch, along with councillor Michelle Kirby, three residents and staff members put their heads together with UpanUp Studios web design to prepare a new website that encompasses many municipal departments.
“One of the highlights is that it’s driven from a mobility standpoint,” said Murdoch. All content will be readable on a variety of platforms including smartphones and tablets.
“It’s a responsive design,” he said. “It doesn’t cut off any of the information if you’re looking at it from a mobile device.”
Along with being more user-friendly, the new website includes Oak Bay Heritage, Parks and Recreation, Oak Bay Police and Fire departments – all of which operated under separate sites previously.
“Now we have it all in one website. We’ve taken all the information and centralized it,” Murdoch said.
The new site, which launched late Sunday night, also includes a calendar of events to which the public will be able to upload.
“It’s a trial,” said Murdoch. “We’re inviting people to submit their events. It’s for community events only. We’ll try it for the next five months or so and see how it goes.”
New features include an “I want to” button which leads users directly to areas of the website where they can pay utility bills, parking tickets and homeowner grants, as well as register a block party, apply for a building permit or tree work along with reporting graffiti, unsafe sidewalks or lighting and animal control issues.
The Explore Oak Bay section includes details on festivals and events, arts and culture and points of interest located in the community. It also includes community maps, walking and cycling routes.
The site will also integrate social media. Users will be able to subscribe to newsletters and have the council agenda sent automatically to their email if they wish.
“It includes a lot more forms for feedback and questions,” said Murdoch.
The new website includes more material presented in a more logical manner, he explained. “There’s quite a bit more information and we made an effort to make it a more compelling place to go for information.
“For example, there’s a dog page which includes information on licensing, bylaws, the pound and poo. … I think it’s a lot more helpful with a lot more content in one place. People are not expected to know where to go (to look for it),” he said.
The integration of information and updating of the website cost the municipality slightly more than the $50,000 budgeted for the job.
“We scraped up funds from a couple of places and found an extra couple of hundred bucks – we were pretty happy about that,” said Murdoch.