Oak Bay Coun. Michelle Kirby’s wonderings about responsibilities in the huge watermain leak in Oak Bay show confusion (Council reacts to Bowker flood report, News, Jan. 18). She might hope a big earthquake does not cause huge water leaks.
Surely the first line of responsibility was hired staff. Some in other departments such as parks were recruited to help, perhaps more could have been. I think councillors should report to staff, especially the emergency coordinator, for assignment.
Ultimately council is responsible, but shouldn’t an immediate role be helping staff take care of affected people? What is the structure of Oak Bay government? Is the mayor, acting mayor or Chief Administrative Officer the top executive as in many fiefdoms?
Unexpected problems can occur, but a properly organized operation with good values tends to take care of them quickly.
My reading of the CAO’s report is that the big gap in response was not engaging the fire department and police early – they are experienced at dealing with water and confusion respectively. There was some confusion on roles within Oak Bay staff ranks, that’s not unusual as emergencies don’t happen every month – thus clear procedures and familiarity with them are good preparation.
Oak Bay obviously has a problem of aging infrastructure and inadequate information on it, a major factor in this case – reality might be that higher taxes or amalgamation may be appropriate.