Letter: HCA important to community-building, heritage planning

Proposal helps to reinforce the integrity of established neighbourhoods, streetscapes and green space

Thank you to the Oak Bay News for its ongoing coverage and Dec. 14 editorial about Oak Bay’s first Heritage Conservation Area (HCA) proposal.

In the case of Oak Bay Heritage, any publicity is good publicity in our ongoing effort to inform and educate the community about the benefits of heritage conservation.

Understandably, Oak Bay’s Heritage Commission has a keen interest in the future of this proposal and supports council’s decision to move it to budget discussions.

The commission is aware of the proposal’s potential to not only be the first of its kind but, also as a project model for the future of heritage conservation in Oak Bay.

Many Oak Bay residents and members of the Heritage Commission have been concerned about the more recent pace and extent of re-development in Oak Bay, especially in established neighbourhoods.

While it’s true that change is part of ongoing community development, it’s also true that heritage conservation and change brought about by development/re-development do not have to be mutually exclusive.

Working together through consultation and partnerships to bring about a sensitive and careful approach to heritage land use planning and management can have enormous, long-term benefits for the preservation of historically significant places and spaces.

In addition to preserving Oak Bay’s cultural history, heritage recognition can also improve property and home values and enhance the attraction of established neighbourhoods.

This HCA proposal represents an important step in community-building around heritage land use planning, consistent with the community values and provisions of Oak Bay’s 2013 Heritage Strategic Plan and 2014 Official Community Plan.

The proposal helps to reinforce the integrity of established neighbourhoods, streetscapes and green space, all of which are sustainable when planning vision and best practices are applied.

Most importantly, this proposal reflects the best of community and neighbourhood co-operation because we know that often, the most successful projects are those that are identified and driven by committed residents working together with local government.

Cairine Green, Chair,

Oak Bay Heritage Commission