Program updates promise community input

Council reviews Age-friendly Action Plan and Complete Streets Program information

Age-friendly Action Plan and Complete Streets Program information updates prompted similar responses during the Oak Bay committee meeting Monday night.

Coun. Michelle Kirby noted the two are intertwined.

“I’m pleased with the synergies here,” she said. “It’s reinforcing the message to the community … anything that complements the agefriendly process is good for complete streets.”

While appreciating both projects were funded with grants, Coun. Kevin Murdoch said he would have preferred to spend money on tangible projects, such as creating curb cuts.

“This will give us a bit of a tool for discussion,” he said, adding it won’t be a huge benefit. “It’s still tax dollars spent on a report that produced generalities.”

The Age-Friendly plan spawned from a World Health Organization set of categories so a community can assess its age-friendly status. A provincial grant for $20,000 was provided to the District of Oak Bay to undertake development of its own Age-Friendly Action Plan to identify areas that need improvement for its “age friendly” health.

A draft Age-Friendly Action Plan with strategies that address eight categories identified by the WHO is expected to go to the community for review in early January, followed by presentation to council for approval. Staff are currently assessing strategies to engage the community in its consideration of the Action Plan. As per conditions of the funding, staff will prepare a report of the project process, to be forwarded to the province.

Murdoch reiterated his concerns with the Complete Streets information package, prompting response from Kirby and Coun. Tara Ney.

“(This) specifically engaged community on transportation and housing and reinforced that we’re going in the right direction,” Kirby said.

“This is money well spent. This has focused these projects on a particular initiative, it give us the license to move forward with it in a focused way,” Ney agreed.

Coun. Hazel Braithwaite, who chaired the committee meeting, noted it’s up to council to ensure the reports don’t “just sit on a shelf” but are put into action.

“It’s good to reinforce … I just always question a report that tells us largely what we already know,” Murdoch said.

Complete Streets is an approach to urban planning that recognizes streets as more than just paved roadways for vehicles; roadways are designed and operated to enable safe access and movement for users of all ages and abilities including pedestrians, cyclists, motorists, scooter riders, and public transportation users.

In the 2015 municipal budget, council approved $20,000 for development of the program to help guide the district toward a pro-active process that considers public education, resident requests and needs-based opportunities identified by staff.

The engineering department hired a consultant to develop a handbook as a tool to enable staff to manage a prioritized list of enhancement projects.

A final draft of the Complete Streets Handbook is expected to come to council for endorsement before the end of March 2016.

Find the draft Complete Streets Handbook and draft Age Friendly Action Plan online at oakbay.ca attached to the Dec. 14 committee agenda.

 

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