The results of Oak Bay’s 2021 budget survey show a majority support for the municipal upgrades of sub-ground infrastructure.
Questions around sewer and drainage infrastructure were not previously asked and were added to the budget survey, which ran in November of 2020.
Sixty-five and 66 per cent of respondents supported an increase in sewer and drainage upgrades, which is currently a major project for Oak Bay and the main reason the municipality is putting $9.2 million annually towards capital projects.
There were 320 questionnaires filled out which is a small drop from 341 from the previous year. The decrease is attributed to COVID-19 restrictions. Of those, 287 were completed online, 33 on paper. Ten responses were from people living outside Oak Bay and were removed from the analyzed data set.
For the second straight year, responses were consistently over-represented by residents in the 45 to 64 age range and under-represented in the 25 to 34 age range, as compared to the most recent Canada census data, the report noted.
The budget survey captures how residents feel about some of southern B.C.’s most contentious issues. According to 47 per cent of respondents, Oak Bay’s regulation of vacation rentals is fine to maintain as is, versus one third who feel regulation should be looked into.
This year 147 people (48.5 per cent) suggested Oak Bay’s deer population be increased, down from 182 (54 per cent), while the 37 per cent said to maintain it and 14.5 per cent said to decrease it (speculation is that the current deer population will continue to rise without a management program).
Of all respondents, 143 (47 per cent) asked for a bump in municipal led efforts to mitigate and adapt to climate change, with 124 content with current efforts. Thirty-six people suggested a decrease in climate action.
Forty-five per cent of respondents asked to keep the paved surface area the same, compared to 50 per cent who are happy to increase pavement in the district, and five per cent seeking to unpave roads of Oak Bay.
The written responses, while anecdotal, also tell a tale. Many suggest impatience from Oak Bay leaders regarding density housing options amid a housing crisis, with most declarations to “get on with it” in regards to secondary suites approval or regulation.
“Land use applications are taking too long to process and Oak Bay is not contributing its share in growth proportionate to the CRD,” said one.
“Oak Bay says it wants diverse housing but does not allow it when it comes up,” said another.
Cat licensing (such as Calgary has done) and limitations on cats from roaming free were also identified for the second straight year. Fifty-five per cent of respondents said current domestic animal control is fine as is, and 28.5 per cent supported a decrease of domestic animal control.
One person invoked the name Trump (albeit with incorrect assumptions about the deer management program), implying that at least Trump would cull the deer.