Volunteers made the year

Oak Bay Mayor Nils Jensen reports on 2012

For Oak Bay council 2012 was clearly the year of the volunteer.

Every step of council’s work was supported by volunteers who answered our call to become engaged in the business of leading our community. Here is a snapshot of their involvement.

Council’s first initiative was to enlist five volunteer residents to assist councillor Cairine Green in mapping a plan to make our municipal business more open and accessible and get more residents engaged.

Their recommendations culminated in our first neighbourhood meeting, a new website and a public participation period at all council meetings.

Residents came forward to volunteer for two new citizen advisory committees on Active Transportation and the Environment. That resulted in a new transportation policy that will promote walking, cycling and public transportation.

In 2013 council will be looking to improve Oak Bay’s walking and biking infrastructure.

With the assistance of volunteers on the Parks and Recreation Commission, renovations to the Henderson Recreation Centre were approved. Work is expected to be completed in the Spring. Councillor Tara Ney, our representative on the commission, began a process to develop an Urban Forest Strategy.

Volunteers helped secure three-quarters of a million dollars to restore Bowker Creek behind Oak Bay High.

Volunteers also gave us ideas on making Oak Bay more dog friendly.

Heritage volunteers began work on a strategic plan to make heritage decisions more proactive.

Council is grateful for the work of our volunteers. We thank you.

Council’s agenda in 2012 was full. Here are a few highlights.

In November we launched a new exciting, interactive and leading-edge municipal website.

Councillors Kevin Murdoch and Michelle Kirby, with the help of consultants, created innovative features for the site. For example, it’s fully mobile and adjusts to whatever device you use – smart phone, tablet, or desk top. It’s very user friendly and lots of fun. Visit it at oakbay.ca.

In 2013, we will take another technological step forward by making use of the large monitor recently installed in council chambers.

In 2012, council started a process to renew the Official Community Plan (OCP) that has not had a major overhaul in more than 20 years.  Councillor Pam Copley will continue to guide the OCP committee in 2013. The new OCP will create our community’s vision for the future. I encourage everyone to get involved. There will be many opportunities to give us your views.

In November a flood on Bowker Avenue had a devastating impact on several families on the street. A report will review what happened and make recommendations. Councillor John Herbert, as council liaison to our emergency program, will take the lead on overseeing any changes.

One challenge on the horizon will be the future of the Oak Bay Lodge.

I hope we can create a partnership with Vancouver Island Health Authority to explore the future of the lodge in a collaborative relationship similar to the one we have forged with School District 61 to rebuild Oak Bay High, which includes community resources and space.

Council will continue work on issues we started in 2012 and look forward to taking on new challenges and initiatives in 2013.

On behalf of council I wish everyone a happy and healthy new year.

– Oak Bay Mayor Nils Jensen