Self-determination should be a priority for Oak Bay

The right of the Oak Bay community to have a voice regarding the nature of our community has been upheld

I would like to thank members of our Oak Bay council for the courage and leadership they provided for many months regarding how best to respond to the VIHA (Baptist Housing) redevelopment proposal for the Oak Bay Lodge property.

The right of the Oak Bay community to have a voice regarding the nature of our community, and the services that are available, has been upheld by Nils Jensen, Tara Ney, Cairine Green and Michelle Kirby.

The nature of the supports that are developed for seniors’ care, and how facilities might look are fundamental concerns that merit the input of council and community — at the design and use stage.

Why would it be any other way? Broader levels of government have an obligation to closely communicate with local governments, and coordinate actions with the needs and realities of those directly supported or impacted.

As philosopher Jürgen Habermas noted (and as exemplified in this instance), government structures can become uncoupled from the lifeworlds of those they are ultimately meant to serve. The provision that Oak Bay council made for community consultation brought many perspectives, and a great deal of light to a decision that was apparently ‘in the bag.’

I would like to thank the above members of council for their insistence that the broader community has a right to open the bag and be engaged.

If VIHA picks up its ball and goes home, we will have to be patient and see if a different government, and a new VIHA board (and senior administration) might be more amenable to a respectful, substantive, consultative process.

It is with patience, over time, that we will get a development that is optimal for the Oak Bay community.

I am willing to wait until we get it right. The Oak Bay Lodge redevelopment proposal was for replacement residential care beds – contrary to the rhetoric, they weren’t providing new beds. What is truly unfortunate is that seniors in the region will have inadequate facilities until VIHA gets its act together.

Doug Mollard

Oak Bay