Bear Mountain, Oak Bay and growth in Greater Victoria

On the face of it, what happens in the Highlands doesn’t affect Oak Bay taxpayers. So why is Highlands Mayor Mark Cardinal annoyed that Oak Bay is protesting a change to the Regional Growth Strategy? Seems he thinks that because Oak Bay built out decades ago, it shouldn’t be objecting to the growth in the Highlands and is just stopping Highlands because it can (any changes to the RGS need to approved by all 13 municipalities).

I applaud that the current council has taken this measure, for they have quite rightly seen that this kind of unrestrained growth on the part of Highlands will hurt Oak Bay and its tax payers. Why? There are a number of reasons. Firstly, water is a regional matter. If the CRD ends up needing more infrastructure due to growth in the Western Communities, that comes out of the pocket of every taxpayer in the region. Similarly for transit or the library. (although I will note that the Spencer Road Interchange shown is being funded by the City of Langford and Bear Mountain).

We need to keep planning the growth of our region as a region while keeping our local communities strong and vibrant.

Where is the all candidates debate?

With 7 declared candidates, as Michelle says, this is officially a race. But where are the debates? To the best of my knowledge, there are no all candidates debates scheduled here in Oak Bay. We need one. These debates are often the only place that voters get to interact with a large number of candidates at once and decide for themselves what vision of Oak Bay they support. So please, if you want to see a healthy, vibrant democracy here in Oak Bay, start asking about an all candidates debate or better yet, organize one yourself.

Campaign happenings

Just a small update on a few things that have been happening in the past day or so. Firstly, the Oak Bay News story I interviewed for has been published, but apparently only in the print version. Grab yourself a copy from one of the many boxes around Oak Bay.

I also managed to sit down with Lesley Ewing of Safer Cycling Oak Bay. We had a long conversation about bicycling in Oak Bay and how the current (and past) councils been very resistant to any sort of change that will help bicyclist. John Luton also joined us for a short while. He is another individual with seemingly endless energy for promoting bicyclists and walkers and has been involved in advocacy for a long time, with both the Greater Victoria Cycling Coalition and more recently the Capital Bike and Walk Society. One of the many ideas discussed was the bicycle master plan I mentioned in my Oak Bay news article. It is still very much a draft, so if have any ideas about routing or places that badly need improvement or just want to get involved generally, please leave me a comment.

Lastly, I managed to get to the campaign launch party of Michelle Kirby, a fellow candidate for Oak Bay council. The party, held at the pavilion in Windsor Park, it was well attended, with easily 50 people over the course of the two hours. She and I share a lot of the same values and are both excited that the other is running.

This coming week I plan on getting more work done on the sign design, which I will be posting here for review, as well as that bicycle master plan.

Henderson Road bike lane or parking lane?

The Henderson Road bikes lanes, a half-baked solution to a real problem, is proving to be a bit of a headache. From 7am to 8pm on weekdays, cyclists have right of way on the side of Henderson Road. The rest of the time, cars have the right to park at the curb, while cyclists navigate a riskier trip weaving among cars.  Confused? So is everyone else.

This confusion became apparent to me on Thursday, when during two hours in the middle of the day I saw three vehicles parked in the bike lane.  Why are people parking in these bike lanes? Maybe they didn’t check their watch, or maybe the new by-law is too inconsistant to sink in. After all, Henderson Road has the only bike lanes in the city that aren’t always bike lanes.  What a lovely “made in Oak Bay” solution.

One ray of sunshine in this affair is the quick, professional way the Oak Bay Police department responded to my report. Within 20 minutes they had returned my call and informed me that the drivers had been spoken to and the cars moved.

Of course, that we have bike lanes on Henderson Road at all is due to the tireless work of Lesley Ewing and Safer Cycling Oak Bay. She collected more than 3000 signatures from Oak Bay residents by pounding the pavement and making calls, 3000 signatures that only got us half way. All this effort aftter council voted 4-3 against full bike lanes in 2007. What a difference one vote makes.

Isn’t it clear that half-way solutions aren’t enough? If we make it safer and less intimidating for people to get on a a bike, they might reach for a helmet rather than their car keys, saving their pocket book and tax dollars. What will it take for council to take biking seriously?

Colwood takes the rail question to voters

Colwood is going to the voters to ask its residents about using the E&N for commuter rail. With the massive headache of the Colwood Crawl, I wouldn’t be shocked if Colwood voters go for this proposal in a big way. The kicker, of course, is the following phrasing: “are you in favour of the government of British Columbia in partnership with the federal government, providing funding to improve the rail infrastructure on the Vancouver Island…” This commits no municipal money (not that there is any to be had), but it does tell those levels of governments that they had better start listening to what people want.

What about Oak Bay? Commuter rail from downtown Victoria to Colwood/Langford really doesn’t help the average Oak Bay commuter. So why should an Oak Bay resident support such a line? Because the second rail line is always easier than the first. The first proves that the project is viable, that people will ride it and that it can be built at a reasonable price. So call your friends in Colwood and tell them that they need to vote yes for rail on November 15th.

Source: Times Colonist story


It is time to change Oak Bay Council. I am running to add a new voice to promote a healthier and Greener Oak Bay. Join me in supporting more bike lanes, more pocket markets and a more livable community this November 15th. You can read more about where I stand on the issues below, as well read more about me or donate to my campaign. Please don’t hesitate to contact me if you have any questions or comments.

A new voice for Oak Bay residents

It is time to build a greener, safer Oak Bay

A fresh perspective is needed this coming November, one to take Oak Bay into the next twenty years while the world changes. We live in a beautiful green city and we should keep it that way. We need new approaches to everything from transportation to food production to community building.

It is time the bike lanes stopped ending at the Oak Bay border. Greater Victoria has the highest percentages of biking, walking and transit use in the country, but that total can become much higher if only people had safe door to door bike routes, be it to school, work or just for pleasure. We also need to look beyond bike lanes, borrowing innovative ideas such as bike boulevards, bike sharing, and other ideas from many other communities.

For those that don’t or can’t drive, particularly seniors and children, we need to fix our unsafe, crumbling sidewalks which form real barriers to community life. We also need to think about transit beyond the large bus, adding a small circulator within Oak Bay to bring people to and from the Avenue, reinforcing it as the economic and social centre of Oak Bay.

Our aging infrastructure is a major challenge but it is also an incredible opportunity. Badly needed sewer work will allow us to explore using waste to generate heat and water, our crumbling sidewalks can now be widened, our roads can add bike lanes, roundabouts and all sorts of traffic calming infrastructure, keeping our streets safe for the next generation to play on.

Beyond transportation and infrastructure, we need to make Oak Bay truly green. A complete pesticide ban is needed to keep everyone, especially children, safe from the harmful effects of chemicals. We also need to encourage more local food production, food that not only tastes great and is good for the environment, it gets everybody thinking about where their food comes from and how it is grown.

Oak Bay also needs to be an inclusive place. Beyond just the legalisation of secondary suites, we need to look at building a mix of residential, to allow people from all ages to live here. This includes families just starting out, students getting their degree, and seniors who wish to downsize but don’t want to break the bonds of friendship that they have built up in the amazing community that is Oak Bay.

All of these require Oak Bay to be one that embraces and assists the small entrepreneur, be it a small shop owner or just a kid selling lemonade to passers-by. These people are the economic engine of our comunity and often the social heart of it as well.

On November 15, 2008, go to the polling station and vote Corey Burger, Green Party, for a safer, greener, cleaner Oak Bay! We have a chance to truly change the fabric of Oak Bay.