A shining new bench of old-growth cedar stands out among the benches looping the lot adjacent to Oak Bay Marina. It faces the islands, and commemorates Michael Battle who was 28 when he died in a motorcycle accident April 16, 2000. He was the popular captain of the Discovery Princess that no longer sailed with Oak Bay Marine Group after his death.
His parents Martin and Stella Battle purchased and maintained the memorial bench on his behalf. It was discovered charred and blackened on the morning of Feb. 22.
Oak Bay resident Jamie Nielson first saw the damage during his morning cycle around the parking lot.
“That’s how I found out that bench had burned,” Nielson said. “We were planning on using that dock board from Cadboro Bay for shoeshine kits and when I heard about Michael being the guy who was always out on boats at Oak Bay Marina…”
Ryan Goodman and Matthew Jardine of Aryze Developments salvaged the wood from Royal Victoria Yacht Club, as the docks were replaced last year. Seeking approval, Nielson scrounged up a cellphone number for Coun. Kevin Murdoch, saved from election time, and sought permission to work on replacing the bench. He was put through to parks manager Chris Hyde-Lay who contacted the Battles and the idea was anchored.
“Ryan milled the wood, we finished it and stained it and put the whole thing together,” Nielson said.
Oak Bay Parks refurbished the plaque, attached the legs and installed the bench.
“It was old-growth cedar from a decommissioned wharf at the Royal Victoria Yacht Club so the connection with the club and boats and MIchael all fits,” said Martin Battle. “It really fits in with Michael’s character.”