While Oak Bay’s council-elect members wait to be sworn in, Oak Bay News asked them to share top priorities for their first 100 days in office.
Mayor-elect Kevin Murdoch will be sworn in on Nov. 5 along with councillors-elect Andrew Appleton, Cairine Green, Eric Zhelka, Esther Paterson, Hazel Braithwaite and Tara Ney. Here’s what they had to say:
Murdoch: My priorities for the first 100 days will be making sure that our long-term financial needs are built into our budgeting, even in our preliminary budget this year; making sure that we are looking at our broader housing needs; and I’ll be reaching out to the elder care community to look at what options we may have available for the Oak Bay Lodge site.
Appleton: I’d like to see the new council get to work quickly on topics for which we heard strong support during the campaign. This includes working to develop our road map forward for diversifying housing options. I want to see council being ahead of the curve with respect to budget discussions coming in the new year; we should be ready with an updated and more accessible process. I would also seek adoption of the recommendations of the recent report on public engagement, as I believe it offers important guidance for what I trust will be an accessible and action-oriented council.
Green: To create a more friendly and welcoming atmosphere in council chambers, eliminate practice of standing when council first enters. For more fairness and equity, implement a new digital timing system to guide public speakers. To provide key environmental oversight and protection of land use, reinstate an environmental advisory body to guide development decisions. To provide better public engagement and accountability, designate two council liaisons each for North, Central and South Oak Bay. To provide better certainty for everyone, direct planning staff to expedite full implementation of the Official Community Plan through timely revision of zoning bylaw and related regulations.
Zhelka: To become high functioning, it’s been said all new teams must go through the path of “forming, storming, norming, and then performing.” My priorities are to honour my wake, all those who got me here including the last council and mayor; to start connecting with this new council to move as quickly as possible through the path all new teams take to high performance. I am grateful for the crush of new council orientation meetings and the important efforts of our new mayor-elect to bring us together; and to build professional, respectful relationships with each member of council.
Paterson: The first 100 days will be spent learning the duties and legislation of council, working with district staff for a smooth transition of governance and identifying short-term priorities of business that is already in progress. With a mandate for improved transparency and public engagement, finances, budgets and reporting are issues that council will have to address early in the new term.
Braithwaite: My priorities of the first 100 days would be to book a town hall meeting for January or February. I also want to look at ways we can implement a more sound housing strategy than what has been currently proposed. Something I heard about a lot while door knocking, start a dialogue with the province around deer management to reduce our growing herd. And finish writing my thank you cards.
Ney: The first order of business for the new council will be to decide on the priorities for this next term. I will listen carefully and with an open mind to what is important for my council colleagues. That said, I will fully support initiatives that promote social connectivity and inclusion, protect our natural and built environment, and ensure fiscal responsibility. Top on my list, though, is expanding infill housing options (e.g. secondary suites, duplexes, and townhouses) and multi-unit housing on the high-traffic corridors that will complement our single-family housing stock and enhance our neighborhoods and community, more generally.
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