Oak Bay’s newly released 2017 Annual Report was met with mixed reviews at the July 9 council meeting. While some praised the accessibility and attractiveness of the document others raised concerns about a lack of performance measurements and transparency.
“Oak Bay’s 2017 Annual Report does not clearly articulate performance against objectives, significant changes and new or on-going concerns,” wrote Esther Paterson in a letter to council.
Some council members agreed.
“I found that it was all cookies and cream, repeated a few times. I have difficulty with this. I like to celebrate the successes we’ve had over the year but I think we can’t have our heads in the sand about what needs to be improved. I have trouble accepting it as it is,” said Coun. Hazel Braithwaite.
Mayor Nils Jensen said they have worked hard over the last 10 years to make the document more accessible. “I thank staff for putting the report together. It’s accessible and readable,” said Jensen.
While Coun. Kevin Murdoch appreciated the fun facts and the effort put into making the beautiful and readable document, he also felt there were holes.
“In future it would be worthwhile to look at what we have done, and what we haven’t done. I don’t think it reflects the financial questions. The only way we are going to drive better decision making is to have accurate information. I have a hard time receiving this,” said Murdoch.
Resident Mike Wilmut took issue with the statement that Oak Bay has been practicing “sound fiscal management” citing that most of Oak Bay’s roads, sanitary and storm sewers, and water lines are in “poor to very poor condition” according to Oak Bay’s Engineering Department.
“Our infrastructure will require approximately $283 million over 20 years to repair (Opus/Moore Wilson Repmis). We have only about $27 million in reserve. In short Oak Bay has “crumbling infrastructure”. None of this information is in the report,” wrote Wilmut.
Coun. Michelle Kirby said the work the Mayor’s Task Force on Engagement is doing will help to facilitate transparency and aid the public discussion.
Staff acknowledged the feedback and reminded council of the resources and capacity required.
Mayor Jensen, Coun. Kirby, Coun. Croft, and Coun. Ney voted to receive the report while Coun. Braithwaite, Coun. Murdoch, and Coun. Zelka voted against.
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