Oak Bay community plan rebuild faces its next crucial step

Oak Bay prepares to analyze survey responses following passing of deadline

Pam Copley isn’t exactly biting her nails in anxious anticipation of the results of Oak Bay’s official community plan resident survey.

What she is excited about, however, is the level of participation shown by residents willing to provide input into the future of their municipality.

“I’m really pleased about how engaged and interested people have been in this whole process,” said Copley, the Oak Bay councillor who chairs the OCP advisory planning committee.

While it’s “anybody’s guess” what the survey results will illustrate, she isn’t that surprised that residents got on board with this latest opportunity to speak up.

“What we know for sure is we have a very engaged community. There’s lot of opinions out there and we hear about them on a regular basis.”

While the process saw early speed bumps – surveys sent out in September were addressed only to “resident” and tossed out as junk mail by some residents – the response rate has far surpassed council’s 20-per-cent expectation.

After the “soft” submission deadline last Thursday, the numbers were impressive: 2,227 people had completed the online survey and 297 people had mailed in their responses.

Using a base total of 7,947 addresses, the total responses equate to nearly 32 per cent.

“We’ve used a comprehensive community engagement strategy with the goal of ensuring as many people as possible had a chance to offer input,” Copley said.

Open houses offered opportunities to give input and learn about the upcoming survey, she said. Once the surveys went out, strategies were used to make sure no one was left out – especially renters living in apartment buildings who can sometimes get missed with general survey techniques.

The responses have been tabulated by the survey consultant as they’ve come in. But council likely won’t see the final results until after the findings are shared with the OPC advisory group in mid-December.

From a public perspective, the next open house is scheduled for Saturday, Feb. 8 in the Oak Bay Recreation Centre lounge. There, the survey results will be presented and residents will have further opportunities to comment on the stated vision, goals and context of the draft OCP.

“This is a big hurdle that we’ve achieved,” Copley said. “This was a critical point and we’re all going to be waiting for the results. It’s a bit of a temperature check for the community.”

The previous OCP review and update for Oak Bay came in 1997. While some indications show the makeup of the community hasn’t changed much in 16 years, Copley said experience tells her otherwise.

“When I go up to Oak Bay Village, there’s lots of young families. They’re the future of our community, they’re the ones who are going to live here in future.”

Follow the progress of the OCP project at oakbaybc.org.

ddescoteau@vicnews.com

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