Oak Bay Council set to consult you on how to consult you

Mayor’s Task Force on Public Engagement will seek public input in new year

The mandate of the Mayor’s Task Force on Community Engagement is to report on engagement, and how best to improve upon the ways the municipality connects with Oak Bay residents.

At the last regular council meeting of the year on Dec.11, Oak Bay Council passed a motion (3-2) to receive, from the Mayor’s Task Force, their Draft Community Engagement Report. The report reviews the goals and objectives of their last draft report in 2012, gives an overview of best practices and general principles of community engagement, and recommends public meetings to get feedback on the report from the community before finalizing it.

The task force will deliver the public forums and report back to council with a final report that includes the public feedback.

Mayor Nils Jensen was expected to announce some new appointments to the Mayor’s Task Force at yesterday’s special meeting of the council (Dec. 18), however that has been deferred until January as they wait to get confirmations from a few people.

Discussion around public engagement was lengthy during the Sept. 18 council meeting, when Coun. Hazel Braithwaite proposed a resolution for a town hall meeting.

“This committee (Mayor’s Task Force on Community Engagement) has been together for quite a long period of time and hasn’t come up with a solution. We have been trying to work towards having town hall meetings for a long period of time and I think it is apparent by two members of council, in essence, having their own town hall meetings in the past week and a half that that is something that our committee is perhaps now ready for,” said Braithwaite during discussion of the resolution. She expressed the need for a question and answer period for members of the community to come forward and be heard.

Coun. Tom Croft, a member of the Mayor’s Task Force on Community Engagement, felt a town hall wasn’t the best format. “The three of us (Jan Mears, Coun. Eric Zelka and Coun. Tom Croft who make up the Task Force) felt that a town hall format in a municipality like ours doesn’t really provide what I think we are looking for in input from the public. The problem is that the mayor represents council and at the two town hall meetings that I’ve been to in this municipality, the councillors sat at the front, the mayor answered questions and people went away and they didn’t feel like they had been adequately served in the end by the town hall meeting. They weren’t certain that they were heard because there was no feedback method for that kind of meeting,” said Croft. The Task Force instead proposes to use a method that is a more conversational format with smaller groups discussing topics at tables.

During the discussion of town hall meetings and public engagement in a broader sense, Coun. Kevin Murdoch noted that as a government body, they are restricted in certain ways.“We have legislative restrictions. We are a legislated body. We have very differing opinions at the table and we can debate that in public and only in public. And we speak as one voice through the mayor. So those restrictions limit us. I think that expectation has to be put out there, that’s just the way it is. We can’t start debating things as a body if we meet, even in an informal way,” said Murdoch. “Someone suggested a public input piece around the budgeting process. I think that sort of feedback, something targeted and focused, where we can tap into the expertise of the community on some of these things makes more sense to me. I think that is a better use of the public’s time and energy than the more general meetings.”

There are differing views on how best to proceed with community engagement within the confines of council restrictions and staff resources, but in the new year, the Mayor’s Task Force on Community Engagement will be asking the public what they think.



Follow us on Instagram
Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Just Posted

Latitude 48 Paddling Club races through Victoria waters

Local team clinched victory in Nanaimo to kick off season that will see them compete in Hawaii

Greater Victoria police busy with St. Patrick’s Day calls

Victoria police respond to 82 calls for service

Royals gear up for WHL playoffs after suffering season-worst loss

Victoria has a solid 7-3 record this year against opening-round opponent Vancouver

Six stories a non-starter at Sidney’s Cedarwood Inn site

Site redevelopment plans go back to the drawing board

Central Saanich Police training a drug recgonition expert

Role needed as Canada nears cannabis legalization this year

REPLAY: B.C. this week in video

In case you missed it, here’s a look at replay-worthy highlights from across the province this week

Women’s Expo seeks to empower women this weekend

Victoria Women’s Expo set for Saturday and Sunday at Pearkes Recreation Centre

America’s Musical Journey premieres at the IMAX

Enter to win tickets to an invite only concert at your community newspaper’s Facebook page

Anti-pipeline protestors block Kinder Morgan tanker near Seattle

Protest was spurred on by the 28 anti-Kinder Morgan activists arrested in Burnaby

Mount Douglas Mathletes enjoying success by the numbers

Saanich Grade 9s walk away with top five spots in Island math competition

Some surprises in new book about B.C. labour movement

“On the Line” charts history of the union movement back to the 1800s

B.C. cyclist races to first win of the season in New Zealand

Casey Brown captures Enduro title by more than two minutes at Crankworx Rotorua

Notorious Russian troll farm also took swipes at Canadian targets

Targets included oil infrastructure and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.

Cirque du Soleil aerialist dies after fall during Florida show

Longtime performer fell while performing in VOLTA

Most Read