Renewal rang through as mayor Nils Jensen reflected on 2016 during the final regular council meeting of the year.
“I’m certainly honoured to serve as your mayor and to have the opportunity to work with elected council to preserve and enhance the quality of life and the unique character that defines us here in Oak Bay and we all hold very precious.”
He started with the renewal theme as the year began with several long-serving employees retiring or moving on in their careers, and new members filling voids.
“We’re very grateful to them, who contributed so much of their professional lives to the betterment of our community,” he said. “We welcomed new members to our leadership team who bring with them expertise and new energy and experience to help us move forward and implement our many priorities and deliver on the expectations that our residents have.”
The council and community continue to be happy with their leadership staff with fire and police.
“We hear over and over again how important these services are to our residents, and how much our residents value our seamless delivery of our public safety services in our community,” Jensen said.
This year Oak Bay embarked on an asset management to address replacement and ongoing maintenance of aging infrastructure.
They strengthened engagement with public offering webcasting early in the year and engaging more broadly with residents.
“This approach to greater openness seems to have gained some traction this year as our district website saw much more activity and our residents responded to invitations to engage in online surveys and attend open houses … which play an integral role in providing feedback,” Jensen said.
Jensen recognized, in addition to the staff work that goes into a thriving community, the citizens who offer time experience and entry on commissions, committees, panels and boards.
A key milestone includes the sewer separation project in the Uplands neighbourhood with phased installation starting in 2017 with a detailed design phase.
A quick reflection on Nov. 11 services prompted an emotional response from the mayor. Songhees Coun. Jackie Albany laid a wreath during the Oak Bay Remembrance Day service.
“This was a humbling and historic moment for all of us,” Jensen said. “We hope this will be the beginning of a long tradition and many more opportunities for engagement and reconciliation with First Nations.”
Oak Bay continues to meet and dialogue with both Songhees and Esquimalt nations.
Arts grew in abundance, and culture was added to the parks and recreation mandate.
“In 2016 Oak Bay became a cultural destination for visitors, concert goers … and shoppers. Our residents and local businesses are enjoying the vibrancy and public energy that has resulted,” Jensen said.
Jensen didn’t let an opportunity slip by to reiterate the staggering statistic from the recent citizen satisfaction survey.
While it also outlined concerns and areas to work toward, 99 per cent of participants (400) rated quality of life in Oak Bay as good or greater.
View the full archived meeting to be posted online at www.oakbay.ca.