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Oak Bay falls into culture

District plans to add Culture to the Parks and Recreation Commission mandate.

Culture could come to Oak Bay as early as this fall, when the district plans to add Culture to the Parks and Recreation Commission mandate.

“Council is very excited to see culture added to Parks and Recreation. I don’t see any challenges with it. I only see positives that will come from this,” said Coun. Hazel Braithwaite, council liaison to the Parks and Recreation Commission. “Now we can focus on those different groups and pull them into the parks and rec family now. It’s more inclusive for residents.”

The title change was first bandied about during the official community plan review that finished last fall. During the review, the community expressed the desire for more and better-co-ordinated cultural opportunities.

“Council has supported this idea with the approval of a part-time arts and cultural programmer position, providing program funding, and by appointing an arts laureate for the second year,” Janet Barclay wrote in a report to council. “Currently the Parks and Recreation Department offers arts programs and hosts cultural events. As such it is the logical department to support the continued growth of this area.”

Earlier this year, Oak Bay’s former Community Initiatives Committee’s priorities were added to the recreation portfolio, as was their budget, noted Braithwaite.

They allowed for a part-time Arts and Culture Programmer to take responsibility for some direct programming of Recreation Oak Bay arts and cultural programs and special events. The part-time programmer would be responsible for maximizing the use of community resources that support cultural participation, identifying arts needs and opportunities, and assisting the manager in facilitating community development in support of the arts.

“It’ll add work into the Parks and Rec department but in our budget we allowed for a part time posi

tion to do work of the culture part of it,” Braithwaite said. “It also means the arts laureate falls under Parks and Rec and Culture. She [Barbara Adams] works very very closely with Janet Barclay on some of those events. It just brings more credence to it. We can give the arts things more press.”

The arts laureate also previously liaised with the Community Initiatives Committee and would now work with the Parks and Recreation Commission.

The titular change however, could not be implemented until fall.

“It has to be changed in a bylaw, so that will not happen until October,” Braithwaite said. “The reason for that is Parks and Rec doesn’t meet in the summer and council meets sporadically so it gives staff some time to work on it and bring it to Parks and Rec in September.”