In Oak Bay, Mayor Kevin Murdoch will be acclaimed with no opposition. There are nine candidates running for six councillor positions. We asked each candidate to outline the most important thing council can do to improve the lives of residents. Here are their responses listed alphabetically.
The most important thing a council can do is to provide a vibrant community and ensure that this community remains sustainable and resilient for future generations. A vibrant community includes a diversity of housing, provision of safe and enjoyable options to get around without a car and infrastructure that can withstand the effects of climate change. The essence of a great community is people and the relationships between them. We need to provide accessible housing options to allow young people to live here, and for our long term residents to stay. Combined, our neighbours create a great community life.
Enhanced livability, to me, is the direction council should go. We need a balance of those things, that when combined, make a vibrant community. For instance, aging in place is important to many, and yet we also need to have public spaces that work for families. Our village planning should include more walkable, ridable, and accessible areas. Our neighbourhoods will benefit when we implement different types of housing, which will contribute to enhanced livability, and, I believe council should always be guided by that goal when it makes its decisions.
Fix the sidewalks and make them more wheelchair accessible. Repair the cracks in the streets to improve road conditions. Increase transportation to and from Oak Bay in terms of a higher frequency in bus service. Invest in keeping the streets safer by getting more police and local security guards. Work with the provincial government to bring more affordable housing options to Oak Bay. Help create more green initiatives to make a more environmentally friendly Oak Bay.
Adequately fund sustainable infrastructure/capital asset replacement. Specifically, we must continue to address the significant deferred infrastructure maintenance debt of over $273M that currently exists in Oak Bay. Without comprehensive and strategic financial and asset management plans to replace, renew or sustain our municipal infrastructure, the community’s goals for new housing and other capital asset renewal (e.g. municipal buildings, sidewalks, roads, sewer/stormwater and parks/green spaces etc.) will be unattainable and will not address the very real risks of climate change.
The most important thing that a local government can do to improve the lives of its residents is to provide sound and strategic governance for their community. This requires ensuring that residents are provided with ample opportunities to fully engage in the discussion of all issues and at all stages, knowing that their input and opinions will be taken into account. Since each council member speaks for many residents, ensuring active engagement is the key to successful decision making. This includes being able to explain decisions made and even being open to reconsideration.
The focus should be on core services. Section 7 of the Community Charter is the foundation of the district’s mission statement; providing for good government and services, laws and matters for community benefit, and providing for stewardship of the public assets for the economic, social and environmental well-being of the community.
Council must prioritize a strategy to deliver on the Asset Management and Sustainable Financial Plan to mitigate risk of service interruption, and to enable broader goals for housing, climate response and environmental protection. As well, council needs to deliver polices to govern financial oversight of taxation, reserve funds and debt.
Council must be faster, more effective and inclusive in its decision-making. The housing and climate crises cannot wait another four years. Council must learn to gather knowledge and evidence quickly, consult meaningfully and effectively with community members and groups, including Indigenous peoples, and find common ground rapidly. Progress must be measured not against how little change we have created but against how effectively we’ve met the need for diverse housing, active transportation, greater tree canopy, and climate resilient infrastructure. Effective decision making is the only way to create the sustainable and vibrant neighbourhoods we need and desire.
Great public spaces: one action to improve every resident’s life is to calm our roads, and make our streets and sidewalks safe and useable for all – pedestrians, cyclists, skateboarders, mobility scooter users, the fit and the frail, drivers. Council commissioned and received an Active Transportation Strategy in 2011. It provides a workplan to create “complete streets”, where cars share the space and all users of our network of streets and sidewalks can make their way safely from “A” to “B”. Diligently implementing this plan would bring huge improvements to our quality of life and sense of community throughout Oak Bay.
Eric Wood Zhelka
In the last Satisfaction Survey of Oak Bay services, pipes in the ground and infrastructure was identified by 24 per cent as the most pressing issue. We’re addressing that with an ssset management program that just won ‘best of’ awards at UBCM. Recent rains brought flooding to many basements – we now must implement the plan.
Overdensification was a priority for 15 per cent, and infill strategy 10 per cent (with secondary suites near the bottom of the list). Post pandemic brings change, so, to ensure we are chasing the right issues for majority benefit, we need another survey. All of this in addition to furthering reconciliation.
Advance voting starts on Oct. 5 with general election day on Oct. 15. For more information on how or where to vote, check out your municipality’s website.For election night results, and more coverage in the lead-up to the election, go to oakbaynews.com.
READ MORE: 2022 Election Coverage
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