Oak Bay opts for an advisory commission

Council votes 4-3 in favour of forming advisory commission as opposed to committee

Municipal staff will craft a bylaw to create a new advisory commission after a marathon Oak Bay committee meeting of council Monday night.

In a narrow 4-3 vote, and after nearly two hours of discussion, council opted for a commission primarily based on a perception of transparency.

“There doesn’t seem to be significant differences,” said Coun. Kevin Murdoch, who eventually made the motion to have a bylaw crafted.

The makeup and purpose of the commission will be written in, he added while noting the multiple speakers in the overflowing council chambers who spoke to the perception that a commission would provide more transparency. If a commission gets the work done and the perception is better, that’s a better balance, he said.

Coun. Michelle Kirby countered that a “more nimble and adaptable” committee could be altered to suit council’s future needs.

The conversation came as a result of a staff report that came out of the March 16 committee of the whole meeting. It fleshed out the mandate of the advisory group, what two advisory bodies would look like and offered revised terms of reference for a proposed advisory planning committee reflecting input from the previous meeting.

“I thought committee would suit us given we don’t know where we’re going,” Kirby said.

A handful of residents who spoke had other views, outlining arguments that legally council must opt for a commission, while staff countered with a municipal solicitor’s opinion they could select either path.

It quickly became a battle between the Local Government Act and Community Charter provincial legislations, with the public who attended vocal in their perception that a commission’s specificity provides more transparency.

An advisory planning commission may be established by bylaw, as set out in section 898 of the Local Government Act which outlines the composition and mandate of a commission.

It requires a bylaw to establish a commission to advise council on land use, community planning or proposed bylaws and permits referred to it by council. The establishing bylaw must outline member composition and appointment process; and procedures governing conduct and referral of matters to the advisory planning commission. At least two-thirds of the members of an advisory planning commission must be residents. A council member cannot be on the commission but may attend a meeting in a resource capacity.

The members of an advisory planning commission must serve without remuneration, but may be paid reasonable and necessary expenses that arise directly out of the performance of their duties. The legislation specifies minutes be kept and on request made available to the public.

Coun. Hazel Braithwaite came to a conclusion similar to Murdoch. “With the amount of public here to speak to this, maybe the commission is the way to go,” she said.

Braithwaite pointed out she’d want any member of council who sat on a committee to not vote in that capacity anyway, acting only in a “resource capacity”.

“I don’t have a burning, table-thumping view of which way we should go on this,” said Mayor Nils Jensen.

He added that a committee has worked successfully in the past, citing examples such as the advisory group during the recent official community plan review as well as the active transportation and environmental committees that also contributed to the OCP review. His main concern was that a commission would leave those two now-defunct committees’ values out of the loop as the commission is limited to land use issues.

For a brief moment the active transportation and environment committees earned consideration, voiced by Coun. Eric Zhelka.

“Let’s revive them,” he said, in response to concerns that those issues would need to be “shoehorned in” as land use issues to meet a commission criteria.

Kirby, a proponent of those committees, defended the need to roll their activities into the larger body, allowing for better staff support for items such as minute-taking and disbursement.

“We don’t have an unlimited budget,” said Kirby.

Jensen, Kirby and Croft opposed the motion to start the advisory planning commission bylaw process. Murdoch suggested a few wording alterations should be considered as the process moves forward.

Decisions at committee are recommendations made to council for further consideration. Council meets Monday, April 27 at 7:30 p.m. in chambers, 2167 Oak Bay Ave.





Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

A collage of damaged areas in need of repair in Oak Bay municipal hall, including carpet hazards, missing wall pieces and interior water damage. (District of Oak Bay images)
Oak Bay awards contract for municipal hall renovation

$470,000 will go towards cracked walls, ripped flooring

The Sooke School District raised more than $18,000 for the Goldstream and Sooke food banks from the funds of 10,000 Tonight in December 2020. The funds go two- to 2.5-times further due to the buying power of the food banks. (Black Press Media file photo)
SD62 high school students raise more than $18,000 for food banks

Edward Milne in Sooke rakes in $11,000 alone

There are many options for enjoying a meal out locally during Dine Around and Stay in Town, on now through Feb. 7. (10 Acres Commons)
Dine Around Stay in Town Victoria carries added importance during pandemic

Special menu items for eat in or takeout/delivery, staycation deals available through Feb. 7

Central Saanich installed a temporary portable along Lochside Trail near Michell’s Farm Market and remains in discussion with the Capital Regional District about finding what Mayor Ryan Windsor called a ‘permanent solution’ to ensuring washroom access at the popular location. (Wolf Depner/News Staff)
Central Saanich in talks with CRD about ‘permanent’ washroom facility near Lochside Trail

The municipality installed a temporary portable washroom near Michell’s Farm Market last week

(Black Press Media file photo)
Bylaw officers called to Saanich park for COVID-19 protocol violations on pickleball court

Raquet sport players reminded to avoid doubles play amid pandemic

Toronto Public Health nurse Lalaine Agarin sets up for mass vaccination clinic in Toronto, Jan. 17, 2021. B.C. is set to to begin its large-scale immunization program for the general public starting in April. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Frank Gunn
B.C.’s COVID-19 mass vaccinations expected to start in April

Clinics to immunize four million people by September

Police are searching for an alleged sex offender, Nicole Edwards, who they say has not returned to her Vancouver halfway house. (Police handout)
Police hunt for woman charged in ‘horrific’ assault who failed to return to Surrey halfway house

Call 911 immediately if you see alleged sex offender Nicole Edwards, police say

A screenshot from a local Instagram account video. The account appeared to be frequented by Mission students, and showed violent videos of students assaulting and bullying other students.
Parents, former students describe ‘culture of bullying’ in Mission school district

Nearly two dozen voices come forward speaking of abuse haunting the hallways in Mission, B.C.

Joe Biden, then the U.S. vice-president, and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau take their seats at the start of the First Ministers and National Indigenous Leaders meeting in Ottawa, Friday, Dec. 9, 2016. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Trudeau, Biden to talk today as death of Keystone XL reverberates in Canada

President Joe Biden opposed the Keystone XL expansion as vice-president under Barack Obama

Prince Edward Island’s provincial flag flies on a flag pole in Ottawa, Friday July 3, 2020. A lozenge plant in Prince Edward Island has laid off 30 workers, citing an “almost non-existent” cold and cough season amid COVID-19 restrictions. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
‘Almost non-existent’ cold and cough season: P.E.I. lozenge plant lays off 30 workers

The apparent drop in winter colds across the country seems to have weakened demand for medicine and natural remedies

Robert Riley Saunders. (File)
Disgraced Kelowna social worker faces another class-action lawsuit

Zackary Alphonse claims he was not informed of resources available to him upon leaving government care

Anyone with information on any of these individuals is asked to call 1-800-222-TIPS (8477) or visit the website victoriacrimestoppers.ca for more information.
Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers wanted list for the week of Jan. 19

Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers is seeking the public’s help in locating the… Continue reading

A specialized RCMP team is investigating a suspicious trailer, which might have connections to the illicit drug trade, found abandoned outside a Cache Creek motel. (Photo credit: <em>Journal</em> files)
Police probe U-Haul trailer linked to illicit drugs left outside Cache Creek motel

Hazardous materials found inside believed to be consistent with the production of illicit drugs

Most Read