Implementing the Official Community Plan

In 2014, Oak Bay adopted its new Official Community Plan (OCP). It’s a modern, useful document that in application produces extensive and sometimes passionate debate. This is because the OCP is meant to provide the broad goals and objectives for a community, but is not meant to stand on its own as a guideline for the design of development. I want to see Oak Bay update existing bylaws and create new tools and policies to implement the vision the community outlined in the OCP. My experience includes both writing and developing bylaw and OCP content, and I have applied knowledge of how these tools work. Part of my “day job” involves working directly with local governments and requires that I be conversant with the OCPs and development bylaws of over 100 communities. It’s my opinion that we have a great basis to create a built for Oak Bay approach to managing development.

I’ve talked and listened to many fellow residents who are concerned about the impact of new development in our community. I’m dedicated to the idea that Oak Bay can add diversity in housing options and community amenities without losing the residential character that’s so valued here. This is not density for density’s sake, but rather primarily about the “missing middle”, midsized housing options desperately needed for both aging residents that would like to downsize their residence while staying in their community, and young families starting out. I firmly believe this is not an either/or proposition; the community should be having a conversation about where new homes should be and what types of new homes they should be. We need to create a diversity of housing options and take tangible steps to advance and support affordable housing.

My key goals:

– Complete the secondary suites process and develop standards and guidelines appropriate for the Oak Bay context

– Amend and update the Zoning Bylaw to provide more clarity and definition on development types. Provide more detail on standards for proposed multi-unit developments to ensure consistency and minimize the need for variances

– Refine and further detail the requirements of the Commercial / Mixed Used Development Permit Area (DPA) to better inform design and placement of buildings

Better process and services at District hall for residents

I’ve been very interested at getting to the root of why many Oak Bay residents feel some frustration with municipal services, and as a former municipal staff person I’m keen to look at ways we can make this better. Streamlined process, better access to information and clear standards benefit everyone- it makes residents’ life easier when they do business with the District and saves staff time. I’ve heard from residents that unclear and inconsistent process can lead people to implement renovations and projects that are not to standard, causing friction in the community.

Some of the things I’ve heard from residents that I will work to fix:

– Addressing the significant backlog of permit reviews and approvals

– Variances and headaches for landowners

– Access to information on significant developments

Sustainability / Environment

Environmental protection is a cause that is deeply important to me and one that I’ve dedicated most of my working career to. I’m happiest in my field work gear: planting trees, pulling invasive plants, wading through streams, sampling fish. This is literally where the boots hit the ground and I am passionate about my work making a material positive impact on the environment.

Oak Bay residents consistently list the natural environment as one of their key values, and a defining feature of living in this community. I believe that we need stronger bylaws and policies to keep these values intact for future Oak Bay residents. Development should not come at the expense of environmental considerations and should consider sustainability in all aspects of its implementation.

I’ve worked with environmental protection and regulation for over 15 years at the federal, provincial, regional and local government levels. My track record and expertise in speaking for environmental values as a member of the Advisory Planning Commission is clear. I will continue to be a vocal, knowledgeable and highly experienced advocate for the natural environment as a member of council.

My key goals:

– Amend and strengthen the tree protection bylaw to retain the maximum number of trees when development is proposed, and stop the clearing of lots before building permits are granted.

– Amend and update the Shoreline Development Permit Area (DPA) to provide additional protection and guidance for restoration, and ensure that the public has access to the public foreshore

– Implement new protective measures and policies to ensure the ongoing health of our park lands

– Take action to implement the recommendations of the recently completed Urban Forestry Plan

Transportation and Infrastructure

I’m a big believer in the value of sustainable transportation and that all residents should have access to a range of transportation options. At the same time I’ve heard from fellow residents who have become increasingly concerned about road safety, speeding and unsafe conditions for pedestrians, particularly children and seniors. The good news is these are actually speaking to the same topic. I will advocate for the implementation of a complete streets approach, the framework for which was approved by council in 2012 but to date has not been implemented. This means better planning for road infrastructure that considers all users and a dedicated review of accessibility and mobility barriers. The District needs to develop a realistic, practical schedule and budget for infrastructure upgrades that doesn’t see us falling further behind every year. We should also encourage development proposals that are situated close to public transit routes.

Almost every resident I talk to is concerned about the state of our streets and infrastructure. I’ve spoken with people who have seen their neighbours struck in crosswalks and have seen older members of our community not be able to get out and about because of broken sidewalks. With an aging population and many new families moving to the community, we need to provide proper facilities.

Oak Bay’s sidewalks and crosswalks are in desperate need of upgrades, which dissuades walking and encourages car use for short trips. I would seek to implement a comprehensive review of pedestrian infrastructure and implement a prioritized program of improvements.

My key goals:

– Implementation of the Complete Streets Policy

– Review of pedestrian infrastructure, with a focus on Oak Bay Avenue and our village centres as a first priority

– Implement safe cycling and active transportation corridors to all of Oak Bay’s schools and recreation facilities.

– Pedestrian issue reporting and “triage” system implemented for public works

– Implement a trial installation along Oak Bay Avenue to explore expanded walking and biking facilities.

Transparent and Accessible Government

I believe very strongly in the value and importance of open and accessible government. I want to place a priority on providing Oak Bay residents with a diversity of ways to engage with their elected officials and District staff, as well as providing staff with the resources they need to better communicate outward with the public. As a member of the Mayor’s task force on public engagement and a board member of the Greater Victoria Placemaking Network, I’ve spoken personally with hundreds of Oak Bay residents about how they’d like to be involved with their municipality. Certain themes come out loud and clear; a desire to better understand the District’s processes, to be informed earlier and more comprehensively about topics they care about and to be kept in the loop about what decisions were made with their input.

My key goals:

– Implement priority recommendations from the Public Engagement Report

– Create new tools for staff to communicate municipal activities to residents, including development applications

– Revitalize the District’s social media channels