Development opponents breathing easier

Request to split heritage estate taken off municipality's list

Blair Gowie will remain as is – for now.

The 1916-built Samuel Maclure mansion on Runnymede Place has been at the centre of a community controversy since potential buyers Ann Hillyer and Bruce Wilkin indicated their desire to subdivide the property.

Neither the couple nor the representative for the owners of the mansion, the Ellis family, would speak to the News about the status of the conditional offer agreed to earlier this year.

But Oak Bay municipal staff confirmed that Hillyer and Wilkin said this summer they were not purchasing the property. The application for the heritage revitalization agreement they had been negotiating with the municipality was withdrawn, said director of planning Roy Thomassen.

Oak Bay resident Stefan Opalski said last year he would be willing to purchase the home without any of the concessions Hillyer and Wilkin were requesting in the heritage agreement. But he hasn’t been able to confirm if the house is still for sale.

“It’s difficult to say what our plans are, as no one has approached us,” he said.

The concessions being asked for included slicing off a 6,500-square-foot section of the heritage-designated property and selling it to help pay for renovations on the house.

Nearby neighbours Ewa and Alan Lupin had circulated a petition and spoke several times at public meetings opposing the proposed heritage agreement.

In an email, the Lupins said they were pleased to hear the proposed development had been “postponed.” They hoped council will prevent future buyers from subdividing the land.