Council has just received from staff the Asset Management Program Update – Sustainable Infrastructure Replacement Plan Report.
Treasurer Christopher Paine and engineer Daniel Horan are to be highly commended for their readable, honest, objective report. It is clear that unless serious, immediate action is taken, Oak Bay is on the path to amalgamation (not a pleasant option).
Step one of an action plan is to provide readable, honest, objective information about the choices we face to address our massive infrastructure funding gap ($463.5 million). This step would be followed by a genuine community discussion to ask whether we are truly willing to avoid amalgamation and if so, how.
The report’s suggestion does not meet these criteria: “Staff are seeking direction from council to incorporate questions in the upcoming 2022 budget questionnaire related to the above recommendations. The intent is to consult the public about the proposed rate increases and the expected increases in the capital improvement program for infrastructure. The feedback obtained in this questionnaire can then be used by council to inform decision-making in preparation for the 2022-2026 financial plan process.”
It is not the responsibility or mandate of any council to make such a significant decision, which will critically affect the next 30 years of Oak Bay’s life, based on a questionnaire. It requires community wide input and participation.
I suggest a task force made up of credible members of the community, staff and council representation be mandated to produce the information and organize community discussions.