Tuesday, September 09, 2008

Oak Bay News

Child care advocate runs for council

By Kerrie-Ann Schoenit - Oak Bay News

Published: September 08, 2008 3:00 PM
Updated: September 08, 2008 3:51 PM

Michelle Kirby is looking to steal a chair on Oak Bay council.

She officially announced her candidacy over the weekend on her blog and hopes to bring a new voice to the council table.

“I think (current council members) have lots of experience and that’s very valuable, but I also think a fresh perspective would benefit them,” said the 33-year-old mother of two. “I can help council get in touch with some of the younger generation’s perspectives, the way we see the world and what our priorities are.”

Kirby has a degree in international relations from University of B.C. Okanagan. She moved to Greater Victoria nearly a decade ago, working for the Youth Employment Project and then with the Canada Revenue Agency.

The challenges of finding child care in the past two years led her to co-found Parents for Child Care, a web-based advocacy group.

“The demographics in Oak Bay are changing and it feels like there’s a lot of young families around,” she said. “Oak Bay, as a municipality, could do more to help parents with child care by providing quality options. I think the programs offered are extremely high in quality but, if there were more available, it would be better.”

Kirby would also like to see more focus on climate change solutions in the community.

“I think we’re off to a good start, but it’s too slow for my liking. I feel this is an urgent issue and we need to move a little quicker.”

Discussions at meetings take too long, often due to councillors not fully understanding the issues, Kirby added.

“Certainly I’ve seen some gaps where councillors could have been more prepared and, as a result, they’re missing the chance to move on with things and move things along quicker,” she said.

If elected Nov. 15, one of the first things Kirby would pursue is the legalization of secondary suites. She sees them as a way of preserving Oak Bay’s character by utilizing available space.

“I really think it addresses a number of issues and I think we need to talk about it as a community and we haven’t so far,” she said. “There’s 1,500 homeless people living on the streets in our neighbouring communities and students scrambling for places to live. It would be in everybody’s interest if we were a part of the solution.”

However, legalization would not be easy. It requires the review of Oak Bay’s Official Community Plan, a task Kirby wants done for a number of reasons.

“Being innovative on an individual level doesn’t fit with the way our bylaws and our Official Community Plan are right now,” she said. “I’d like to see people being creative and not having the bylaws act as barriers for solutions for climate change.”

Kirby is currently in the process of launching an official campaign website. In the meantime, to learn more about her platform visit http://www.chezkirby.ca.


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