Burst balloons for Bowker

Burst balloons for Bowker

Oak Bay won’t pursue balloon study for proposed development

In response to head off rumblings on social media, council considered seeking a balloon study for the proposed Bowker development.

The bylaws to allow variances for the four storey building proposed at the corner of Bowker Avenue and Cadboro Bay Road goes to public hearing May 3.

A pamphlet hit mailboxes and doorsteps of the area last week and comments on social media exploded in diverse conversation reflective of between both council and the public during official meetings and presentations.

During the April 24 meeting, Coun. Kevin Murdoch asked the applicant Abstract Developments to put in place a balloon study by May 1.

“I feel myself funnily advocating for something I’m not a big fan of,” he said.

A study would entail balloons raised to indicate height and width of the proposed building. It’s something suggested by some residents.

“The reason the residents want to do it is they want to get some sense of the scale of this across from them or around them,” Murdoch said. “If we do it officially so we know the information is accurate … it would address the concerns of people who think it’s too big.”

“It would be hard for me to commit to something without any understanding of what that would be or to derive that information by May 1,” said Mike Miller, president of Abstract.

He advocated for geodetic measurement, provided earlier in information, as “exact.” A balloon study wouldn’t measure the architectural nuances intended to soften a building’s impact, he said. Miller also pointed to information provided earlier about the height relative to adjacent buildings.

“That’s where we should put our trust, not in some … I almost think it’s some kind of a gimmick,” said Oak Bay Mayor Nils Jensen. “We have the science and I think we should rely on that.”

While balloons may blow around a bit the advantage is “they exist where the building is, not back and away,” Murdoch said.

Jensen sees council pursuing a balloon study as “encouraging very inaccurate and potentially misleading information.”

The proposal goes to public hearing May 3 at 6 p.m. in the Dave Dunnet Community Theatre at Oak Bay High, 2121 Cadboro Bay Rd.

A model of the proposed building is on display at municipal hall, 2167 Oak Bay Ave.