Don’t Shoot the Messenger

Oak Bay residents had a chance to see the results from Citizen Budget at the March 5th Estimates Meeting. Results, prepared by Open North, were infused with critical comments about infrastructure, land planning and finances.  Frustration with the District is evident, but residents need to be cautious about blaming District staff for problems. District staff has the responsibility to recommend, but not to approve, Municipal budgets. Staff reports and recommendations are provided to the public at Council and Strategic Priority Meetings, and in Financial and Annual Reports. For several years, Oak Bay Staff have voiced concerns about aging infrastructure and finances.  Despite Staff concerns, they have been limited by funding that is not adequate to maintain services to meet the expectation of residents. Council has the authority and responsibility for budget funding; residents have the responsibility to hold Council accountable.  In censure of the 2017 Financial Plan, 3 members of Council voted against approval. The move highlighted that at least 3 members of Council want to rethink Oak Bay finances. In his Asset Management Update of November, 2017, the Director of Engineering showed that the District needs approximately $5.5 million annually to keep up with infrastructure maintenance and replacements. In 2016 Council approved approximately $1.6 million and in 2017 Council approved $1.7 million. For 2018 the amount approved at Estimates has been increased, but is still $2.25 million short of what is needed for infrastructure. The real problem is Council’s lack of leadership in dealing with long term capital funding.


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