It may be the perception that we are under threat; new houses not quite what I have in mind, new buildings that seem too big for my comfort, people a bit more threatening wandering around. Whatever it is, there seems to be a recurring compulsion in Oak Bay to demand we “do something” about it.
The latest response is the awkwardly worded Heritage Plan survey (offered on the greatly improved Oak Bay website). Full of nebulous value statements and redundant questions, it is a noteworthy example of how not to ask questions, make choices, and establish priorities.
Our desire to add new regulations or bylaws should be approached with extreme caution. Once in place, they are hard to remove. They move us away from guidelines that can be discussed, appealed or amended and move us towards a confrontational environment that escalates into the abyss of civil servants and lawyers.
It is amazing hubris to think that somehow our decisions now are the best ones in our community, that the citizens in the 1930s, or ‘50s, or ‘90s, or after us, couldn’t decide how the community should evolve. A loose set of rules, common sense and an attitude of personal responsibility have worked very well to get Oak Bay to the remarkable place it is.
The survey should be rewritten to embrace simplicity, expect choices, and rank priorities. If it can’t do that it should be abandoned.