Two weeks ago Mayor Kevin Murdoch took the art off the wall of his home office and pressed record on his camera.
It was the first of a series of almost-daily updates on the District of Oak Bay’s response to COVID-19.
The latest, No. 14, is a reminder that Willows Park, its parking lot and The Esplanade are now closed (local traffic can access The Esplanade).
The short videos are meant to amplify the province’s public health state of emergency, Murdoch said.
“We aren’t making these rules,” Murdoch said.
The goal is also to help drive traffic to Oak Bay’s website oakbay.ca/covid-19 which is updated regularly regarding municipal closures, municipal services, and recommended behaviour such as social distancing.
Early on, Murdoch noted that visitors to Willows Park and beach were not taking social distancing seriously and mentioned it in a video, which he calls a mix of personal Kevin, Mayor Murdoch, and info from the District of Oak Bay’s Emergency Operations Centre.
“Everyone gets info in different ways,” Murdoch said. “People like info in short snippets, this is a way to use social media to get local updates out.
“It’s an imperfect tool. For all updates, please go to the website.”
Since March 6, Oak Bay has been ahead of the curve in terms of responding to COVID-19 relative to other B.C. municipalities and Murdoch was the first in the region to publish videos.
Oak Bay was also among the first municipalities in Greater Victoria to close recreational facilities, playgrounds, and non-essential municipal services which included locking the doors of municipal hall to the public.
Each day Murdoch is briefed on the EOC meetings held by the CAO Lou Varela, who holds the role of EOC director, with department representatives including the respective chiefs Andy Brinton of the Oak Bay Police Department and Darren Hughes of the Oak Bay Fire Department. The team focuses on risk management, operations, planning, logistics and finance and administration with some team members filling multiple roles and some members currently working seven days a week.
At first, meetings were twice a day, said Deb Hopkins, Oak Bay’s Director of Corporate Services, though meetings are now called when necessary.
Staff can dial in remotely or participate in-person.
“Those meeting on location are exceeding the physical distancing requirements and have implemented stringent cleaning and safety protocols such as hand hygiene and no shared work-spaces or supplies,” Hopkins said.
“We encourage the public to subscribe to the municipal website at www.oakbay.ca/covid-19 for regular updates as well as our social media accounts on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.”