Mayor promises town hall meeting to air public grievances
They had the placards. They had the pamphlets. But this being Oak Bay, there was no chanting or marching and no one chained themselves to a fence.
With cameras rolling, about 50 people got their message across at a Monday morning protest outside Oak Bay municipal hall.
Organized by Runnymede Place resident Ewa Lupin, the gathering was ostensibly to protest against the possible subdivision of Blair Gowie, a heritage-designated mansion and property. Other residents showed up to underline concerns over Oak Bay council’s treatment of the secondary suite issue.
“We all have about the same overall concern, not about development, but rampant development,” Lupin said. “And about how council is ruling (we) who voted for them.”
Lupin, who met with Mayor Christopher Causton toward the end of the half-hour protest, raised residents’ concerns about feeling left out of council discussions on important issues.
“We have no direct access to mayor or councillors,” she said. “We have the illusion of democracy, and on occasion when we are allowed to speak we are only allowed to before or after process, not during. We are shut up.”
John Foxgord of Friends of Oak Bay Neighbourhoods – his placard stated “Respect Official Community Plan” – also worries about how council is making decisions.
“There’s a common theme of (concerns about) pro-development in Oak Bay. These are issues that are firmly rooted in our official community plan and we’re not being listened to.”
Maureen Johnston moved to Runnymede Place four years ago. With two children aged two and seven, she and her husband are worried about the potential Blair Gowie subdivision.
“I would like to see it remain as is, as a heritage-designated property. With little kids, we’re trying to keep the street quiet without too much traffic.”
Sunny Lane resident Marion Cumming thought it was significant that two different groups gathered with common concerns about how policies are formed in Oak Bay.
“I also think that (the protest) is honouring people who designated land in the past and understood it would prevent subdivision,” she said.
Causton later noted, “There are obviously a lot of issues coming together at the same time.” He promised to arrange a town hall meeting next month at Windsor Pavilion. “There won’t be a particular agenda. People can get up and speak about whatever concerns they have.”