Oak Bay council schedule changes allow more flexibility

Fewer meetings frees up time for new citizens advisory committees

Oak Bay council has trimmed one meeting from its monthly calendar of gatherings.

Starting in April, the first Monday of the month, usually set aside for a committee-of-the-whole meeting, will be freed up.

There will soon be three rather than four municipal meetings each month, including two council meetings and one committee-of-the-whole meeting.

The decision to scale back on the number of municipal meetings was made to free up staff and councillors’ time.

Staff and councillors are busy formulating the district’s first citizens’ advisory committees and scheduling their inaugural meetings, in an effort to reach out and engage the community, said Oak Bay Mayor Nils Jensen.

“We’ve not had a tradition of advisory committees in Oak Bay,” he said, adding that the tradition has been to create task forces or standing committees on select topics, such as secondary suites and climate action.

The advisory committees will have the same term as council.

“This is all new to everybody. We’ve never had advisory committees before,” said Jensen. “We’ve certainly heard the public’s desire to have greater input and more interaction and that’s what we’re aiming for.”

The environmental advisory committee has yet to meet, but council gave the go ahead Monday night for the panel to include 13 members, up from the required 11.

The 11-member active transportation advisory committee, which will look at issues related to cycling and walking, for example, met for the first time last Saturday.

“They’ll have staff attached to (the committees) so staff are going to be stretched to the limit,” said Jensen. “So we thought cutting back on one committee of the whole would be helpful in order to ensure that we properly staff the advisory committees.”

The change will provide some flexibility in the schedule. There will be room for a special committee-of-the-whole meeting to be held, if necessary, to delve into a single but lengthy topic, such as a proposed development or policy change.