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Four Priorities for Council 2019 - 2022

Setting priorities clarifies the mandate for Council and allows the community to​ evaluate Council performance.  There will be many tasks outside this list, but these are my priorities to get Oak Bay back on the track to long-term viability.  Note that these Foundational Pillars are explained in more detail in the policy PDF downloadable here.

  • PLAN: Plan Housing and Commercial Development
    For our community to be vibrant and viable for future generations, we need to plan its growth. Towards the end of my first Council term, Oak Bay approved a new Official Community Plan (OCP). As I noted at the time, it is too vague to guide decisions. For example, when green space and density are both stated goals, which should win out when they eventually conflict? I supported the OCP knowing that much work remained to be done - work I call a "Community Development Plan" because it impacts commercial as well as residential viability, but it may be referred to as a housing plan or local area plan. Needless to say, this planning has not happened, and the Incumbent Mayor Jensen has repeatedly cast the deciding vote against prioritizing such planning. The absence of a plan has led to spot zoning and erratic decisions. If residents, neighbours, and developers are to have any certainty of what can be built (and where), we need to get a plan done, and done quickly. A proper Community Development Plan, developed in consultation with residents, will address the location, massing, and regulation of development. It will address secondary suites, duplexes, townhomes, apartments, commercial buildings and other land use. It will guide transportation and environmental best practices. It will enable the use of Development Cost Charges (as allowed under the Local Government Act) so larger developments can help fund needed infrastructure improvements, parks, or other community amenities. I believe such a plan is required to move our community forward and will help dissipate the divisiveness and distrust that unequal zoning approvals have caused over the last two terms.
  • FUND: Financial Transparency and Long Term Planning
    Taxes, fees, and regionally-imposed costs (such as housing, schools, water, and sewage) need to be more transparent. Financial decisions need to: minimize the long term costs to our community be organized in ways that maximize grants and partnership opportunities accurately reflect the total costs to residents ensure money is spent on infrastructure replacement not emergency repairs I believe budget deliberations should address not only municipal taxes but the cost of regional services as well. Last year's tax information claimed a less than 3% increase but failed to mention that the uplift on an average house was closer to 5% with increases on the water bill. Nor was it clear to most that money was moved out of long-term capital reserves to sustain an artificially low tax rate. It is also important to note the interdependencies of this priority with the first priority around planned community development. That plan will inform the type and scale of infrastructure necessary to ensure it is built once and built right, and also provide additional funding on a local improvement basis. We cannot afford to mortgage the future of our community by postponing investment in our infrastructure.
  • BUILD: Infrastructure Replacement
    Fix roads and pipes now using a 100-year infrastructure plan. This priority ties directly to the priority of financial transparency and long term planning. By using a long lifecycle model (100 years or more for some assets, shorter for others), we can realize significant savings over the long term. This also forces Council to include the hard costs facing us in the near future (upwards of half a billion dollars over the next two generations) when considering other financial expenditures. Some examples of the resulting financial advantages include: Emergency repair of a broken pipe typically costs three to ten times more than replacing it within a planned renewal program. Early project preparation can allow access to federal and provincial grants. Large-scale projects permit better financing options, and when borrowing millions even a small percentage saving is important There are many examples of improved infrastructure planning.. please ask me about my foreshore protection plan.
  • FOSTER: Efficiency, Service, and Ownership of Results"
    Leadership means more than policies and background, it means contributing to a corporate culture that enables success. This is a long-term process, and one enacted in partnership with the municipal administration, but one that needs to be incorporated from the very beginning of the term. One of my priorities is to build on the already excellent corporate culture, ensuring staff can feel a sense of ownership and pride in the quality of municipal services. Delegating decisions to staff with direct knowledge of the issue will help to streamline processes and speed service response time. Staff should be supported in taking initiative on projects, and successes should be celebrated.
  • Restore Elder Care to Oak Bay
    This priority is different from the others in that it requires me, as Mayor, to re-establish a positive working relationship with a regional partner. It is my intention to start that process the first week in office. The Oak Bay Lodge currently provides residential and dementia care to hundreds of residents, on a site that has provided senior care for over 100 years. Actions by the Mayor and supporting Councillors in 2014/2015 will result in its closure not long after this election, leaving Oak Bay as the only core municipality without such care. Oak Bay needs increased elder care, and my priority will be to work with Island Health, the Capital Region Health District, and residents to find use for the Oak Bay Lodge property which will meet healthcare, elder care, and community needs.

Kevin Murdoch, Candidate for Oak Bay Mayor

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