Transparency and Engagement
Having served on Oak Bay Council for three terms (2005 to 2011, 2014 to 2018), I have a deep appreciation of our community. I am fair-minded and non-partisan and don't believe that slates serve the best interests of Oak Bay. I am a strong proponent of more open and accountable governance, for example I fully supported council meetings being broadcast on the internet, and that documents should be made more readily available to the public. I also am a firm believer that we should we hold regular Town Hall Meetings to help increase the engagement of our residents. It has also been suggested to me that we might consider appointing a liaison councillor for each neighbourhood, which is something I know they currently do in the City of Victoria.
Although the previous council passed the new Official Community Plan, there is still a lot of hard work to do to implement several aspects of it. One of the most important things to many residents is the creation of a suitable Housing Strategy. Right now we don’t have anything in place that can meet our community’s changing housing needs. We need to develop a sound housing strategy that will take into account all types of housing, including secondary suites, and that is fitting for our resident’s wants, lifestyles and expectations. Creating the right by-laws to fulfill the intentions and desires of Oak Bay citizens is very important to me and to the future of our community.
Infrastructure and Taxes
It’s important for Council to make sound decisions that keep property taxes at a responsible level while still ensuring we are able to maintain and upgrade municipal infrastructure. We have been failing at putting enough money into our infrastructure and we need to change that so we are not paying huge taxes for unnecessary costs, 5 or 10 years down the road. In the constrained environment of local government, fiscal management and balanced budgets are crucial.
Injuries are occurring – not just pets but homeowners have been hurt by deer. The bottom line is that Oak Bay has too many deer. Reducing their number through traffic accidents and even implementing a contraception program is not the answer to the increasing deer issue. The number of deer killed in traffic accidents in Oak Bay has increased about 600% in the past 7years (from 8 to 48). This trend will continue if nothing is done. The rise in human – deer incidents is past the tipping point and we seriously need to act now. Yes, the contraception program will help, but I believe we will still have to do something else to reduce the number of deer we currently have in our community. We need to get the numbers down to something a lot more manageable and we need to do it now.
We must push the government to address the need for urban deer management before another pet is killed or another human is injured.
Keeping Oak Bay Unique, Liveable & Enjoyable
Keeping Oak Bay unique, liveable and enjoyable is important to everyone I speak with. The way I look at it is that when I go to the mall, I have an expectation to find different stores selling different products - if they all sold the same thing that would be boring and give me no choice. Neighbourhoods are the same, we choose the neighbourhood where we live to meet our personal list - do we want to live next to a park, in a single family dwelling or an apartment or town house? Do we want to be able to ride our bike to work or drive etc. These are all things that we make individual choices about when we choose the community we want to live in. The special residential quality of Oak Bay has not occurred by accident. I embrace what has made our municipality a successful community and such an attractive place to live. I will work hard to ensure the preservation of Oak Bay’s heritage and environment, but at the same time, we also need to embrace thoughtful change that will keep our community desirable and a place where people want to put down roots and raise a family or retire. ·
There are many issues I find myself discussing with residents, but amalgamation is rarely one of them. Last election Oak Bay residents spoke pretty strongly about not going down the amalgamation road. I believe it's important to note that for now the shared services model is serving us very well and it should be continued. As we see other municipalities considering the amalgamation question once again, I feel it is important that we always have a seat at the table to listen to what they have to say.