“A great mix of experience and new energy” is how Oak Bay Mayor Nils Jensen characterizes the new municipal council.
Those traits, he said, will serve the community well in councillors’ roles on various committees and other appointments. Jensen wanted to tap into the wide range of expertise that each member brings to the table.
“I tried to find out what their area of interest was, where they thought they wanted to contribute, and then tried to balance that with their background and experience,” he said of recent meetings with all six councillors.
That process went well, said second-term Coun. Tara Ney.
“I think (Jensen) listened well. You have people that are able to provide leadership in areas that they are both motivated and competent,” she said.
Ney’s main portfolio will be as council liaison to the busy Oak Bay Parks and Recreation Commission, a position vacated by former councillor Hazel Braithwaite, who lost to Jensen in the recent election.
An economic recession, coupled with a static Oak Bay tax base, means the municipality’s finance committee will continue to be in the spotlight. Coun. John Herbert, now entering his fifth term on council, has been appointed chair, taking over from Jensen.
“Tenders are coming in – and every tender is up – and the cost of water is going up, the cost of sewage is going up,” Herbert said. “It’s going to be a challenge to keep our costs in line and I think the mayor has stated that in his various comments. I look forward to that challenge and seeing what we can do to assist.”
Speaking of sewage, Herbert will also remain in his position as Oak Bay’s representative on the Capital Regional District’s liquid waste management committee, a scenario Jensen called “fortunate.”
“That is probably one of the most challenging portfolios that is going to have to be dealt with over the next few years,” Jensen said. “It certainly, at the regional level, has the biggest economic impact and tax impact on our residents. To have someone with the breadth and depth of experience and willingness to continue on it as Coun. Herbert, I think, is a real benefit to the community.”
Coun. Cairine Green is new to Oak Bay, but served two terms as a North Saanich councillor. She also spent time as an alternate director on the CRD board, which gave Jensen the confidence to name her to that group’s arts committee.
“I’m really looking forward to it. It’s a new area for me, but I’ve always had an interest in the arts and culture,” Green said.
She has also been made the go-to councillor for all things heritage, having done similar work in North Saanich. Green acknowledged Oak Bay has a unique set of heritage issues, and that she’ll be learning a lot as she goes.
“Really, it’s an open book for me as far as Oak Bay is concerned. I’m willing to sit down and listen and learn at this stage, so really I don’t have any preconceived notions going in.”
Coun. Pam Copley, entering her third council term, will serve on the municipality’s land use and planning committee, which is going to play a key role in revisiting Oak Bay’s Official Community Plan, and in particular, the issue of secondary suites.
Jensen also announced that two new citizens’ advisory committees will be formed in the new year. One, with Coun. Michelle Kirby serving as council liaison, will focus on implementing the municipality’s newly-minted active transportation plan. Fellow council rookie Kevin Murdoch will fill a similar role with a green committee on the environment and climate change.
Oak Bay committee primer
Though each councillor was appointed to a variety of committees, each has a primary portfolio:
• Public Works/Finance/Emergency Services Section (Coun. John Herbert) – Public works manages municipal infrastructure such as water, sewer, and waste disposal. The finance section oversees financial policy and co-ordinates the district’s budgeting process, while emergency services concerns Oak Bay’s fire and police departments.
• Land Use and Planning Section (Coun. Pam Copley) – Responsible for the administration and application of municipal land-use regulations, building permit process and zoning bylaws. Will play a key role in revising Oak Bay’s Official Community Plan.
• Parks and Recreation Section (Coun. Tara Ney) – Oversees Oak Bay’s five recreational facilities and numerous green spaces and handles many key environmental issues relating to the greening of the community.
• Active Transportation and Community Section (Coun. Michelle Kirby) – Will focus on strategies developed in the Oak Bay Active Transportation Plan, and other community initiatives.
• Environment and Regulatory Section (Coun. Kevin Murdoch) – Will look at ways the municipality can encourage things like green building, and other environmentally sustainable development practices.
• Heritage and Culture Section (Coun. Cairine Green) – Concerned with ensuring heritage issues are taken into account during all phases of municipal planning; preservation and promotion of heritage and cultural touchstones in Oak Bay.
OTHER COUNCIL APPOINTMENTS
Acting Mayor for:
December and January – Councillor Ney; February and March – Councillor Copley; April and May – Councillor Herbert; June and July – Councillor Ney; August and September – Councillor Copley; October and November – Councillor Herbert
Capital Regional District – Mayor Jensen (Alternate: Councillor Herbert)
Capital Regional District Arts Committee – Councillor Green
Capital Regional District Liquid Waste Committee – Councillor Herbert
Camosun College Liaison – Councillor Murdoch
Community Initiatives Committee – Councillors Ney and Herbert (Chair)
CREST Corporation – Mayor Jensen (Alternate: Councillor Herbert)
Emergency Planning Liaison – Councillor Herbert
Greater Victoria Labour Relations Association – Councillor Green
(Alternate: Councillor Murdoch)
Greater Victoria Public Library Board – Councillor Murdoch
Oak Bay Child and Youth Committee – Councillor Kirby
Oak Bay Community Archives – Councillor Green
Oak Bay Heritage Commission – Councillor Green
Oak Bay Heritage Foundation – Councillor Green
Oak Bay High School Steering Committee – Councillors Ney and Kirby
Mayor Jensen (ex officio)
Oak Bay Merchants Liaison – Councillor Ney
Oak Bay Parks and Recreation Commission Liaison – Councillor Ney
Oak Bay Police Board – Mayor Jensen (ex officio)
Oak Bay Tourism Committee Liaison – Councillor Ney
Parcel Tax Roll Review Panel – Mayor Jensen, Councillors Ney and Herbert
Provincial Capital Commission – Councillor Copley
Provincial Court—Family Court Committee – Councillor Kirby
Regional Housing Trust Fund Commission – Councillor Copley
(Alternate: Councillor Green)
Regional Water Supply Commission – Councillor Ney
(Alternate: Councillor Murdoch)
Royal and McPherson Theatres Society – Councillor Green
School District 61 Liaison – Councillor Ney
University of Victoria Liaison – Councillor Copley
Wall of Fame Committee – Councillors Ney and Herbert