Mayor and council held a poorly-publicized open house tonight at Windsor Pavillion. Despite that fact, the attendance wasn’t too bad, as about 20 people attended the two hour event. As an open forum, the topics wandered, from tree preservation to secondary suites to improving the website. I did note a few things:
- Oak Bay’s tree preservation bylaw “scares” a lot of arborists, as it is apparently quite strict. Given how endangered the Garry Oak is, this is probably a good thing. However, whether or not the bylaw going to become a major challenge as our urban forest ages and needs replacement in the next 10 to 20 years is an unknown. The science of tree removal is also not well understood, so some education is going to be needed to help people understand why apparently healthy looking trees are being cut down.
- The secondary suites committee is finally meeting. This can only be a good thing. Notice of the secondary suite committee will be sent out via property tax notices, which misses renters. However, when I pointed this out, both council and I agreed that there is no good method to reach renters, especially those in existing illegal secondary suites.
- The website was raised a lot. Yes, I still owe Chris Causton a short page or so about how to improve the website.
- The room’s layout was very much like a council meeting, with the mayor and council at tables at the front and the public sitting in seats facing them. While it helped focus the meeting, it made it hard for various members of the public to sometimes see and hear the other members of the public were speaking. Alan Cassidy should be praised for choosing not to sit behind a table and Tara and Pam for following suit.
- The covered bike racks that are likely to go in on the Avenue were mentioned, specifically council was praised for driving that initiative. It does illustrate the woeful lack of bike parking in the municipality and the fact that we don’t even really know where all those racks are and what state they are in.
There is probably a great deal I am forgetting, but all in all, it was a good meeting. I have no idea when the next one is going to be or what sort of format it will follow. I hope we can have a more mingling style social event, maybe with a like/dislike wall and some maps of the municipality. Refreshments would have been nice, even if just a few cookies, drinks, etc. But kudos to the mayor and council for taking the step to be out there in a more informal but planned gathering. I look forward to announcement of the next town hall meeting.