Ellis daughters offer tearful plea during Blair Gowie discussion

Blair Gowie owners trust potential buyer

A hush fell over Oak Bay council chambers when Pamela Ellis’ daughters got up to speak.

The two women had sat quietly for two hours listening to a debate about subdividing the property that includes the Samuel MacLure house that had been their family home.

Ellis passed away nine months ago.

But after one speaker implied that Blair Gowie had intentionally been allowed to fall into disrepair so as to make a heritage revitalization agreement more appealing to council – the sisters came to the microphone.

“(I find it) extremely disrespectful to suggest that we would allow our family home to fall apart for financial gain,” Judy Tsimon said, brushing away tears.

“It goes against everything we were (taught.)”

Tsimon and Gill Ellis had sat amongst the crowd of more than 100 that spilled outside chambers and heard introductory remarks by municipal administrator Mark Brennan. He outlined the draft heritage revitalization agreement negotiated with prospective buyer Bruce Wilkin.

Plans are to slice off a 12,000 sq. ft. lot at the north side of the property.  Wilkin and partner Ann Hillyer will also renovate the exterior of Blair Gowie, a 1916 MacLure mansion at 2031 Runnymede Ave. Brennan noted that the duo have not yet agreed to a provision that no further subdivisions of the property be allowed.

The sisters, who have never spoken publicly about the potential subdivision,  listened to opponents to the proposed HRA. Neighbour Ewa Lupin spoke at length, questioning why the heritage-designated garden was not mentioned in the draft and wondering aloud whether suites were going to be built in the house.

Oak Bay archivist Jean Sparks spoke about the danger of setting a precedent by allowing a section of the heritage-designated property to be removed from that designation – a concern that was discounted later by Patrick Frey, a former director of the provincial heritage program.

Tsimon said Wilkin knew her mother and was keen to live in the home, a point he and Hillyer have made at previous meetings. Tsimon added the renovation work would be in accordance with her mother’s wishes.

Gill Ellis said they had discussed the project with their mom, a “pragmatic” woman who was in favour of the subdivision and renovation.

As chair of the discussion, Coun. Allan Cassidy ended the two-hour debate after the sisters spoke. Whether the draft agreement between the municipality and Wilkin and Hillyer will be approved will be up for debate at the next municipal committee of the whole meeting on May 2.

vmoreau@oakbaynews.com

Just Posted

Deep Cove Elementary School principal Shelley Hardcastle (right) and vice-principal Mary Kaercher help to restock Reay Creek with fish – in this case, coho fry – after a recent bleach spill killed hundreds of fish. (Wolf Depner/News Staff)
North Saanich’s Deep Cove Elementary School helps to restock Sidney’s Reay Creek

Restocking followed bleach spill that killed hundreds of fish in creek

The barred owl is the most likely to be spotted in the south Island. (Ann Nightingale photo)
Barred owls dominate Greater Victoria owl-scape

Western screech owl population decimated, partly due to barred owls

Between June 1 and 7, 168 net unconditional sales were made for properties in the VREB region. (Black Press Media file photo)
Victoria home sales slightly behind last June’s pace

Benchmark value of single-family home in Greater Victoria tops $1 million

A new report pegs the annual cost of hiring a third party to monitor use of pickleball courts in North Saanich at $12,000. (Black Press Media file photo).
North Saanich could end up hiring third party to monitor pickleball courts

Other options up for consideration include use of cameras and timed locks

Police monitor protesters at a blockade in the Fairy Creek area of southwestern Vancouver Island on Wednesday, June 9. (Facebook photo)
8 old-growth logging protesters arrested in Fairy Creek watershed Friday

A total of 214 people have been arrested as of June 11

At an outdoor drive-in convocation ceremony, Mount Royal University bestows an honorary Doctor of Laws on Blackfoot Elder and residential school survivor Clarence Wolfleg in Calgary on Tuesday, June 8, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh
‘You didn’t get the best of me’: Residential school survivor gets honorary doctorate

Clarence Wolfleg receives honorary doctorate from Mount Royal University, the highest honour the school gives out

Two-year-old Ivy McLeod laughs while playing with Lucky the puppy outside their Chilliwack home on Thursday, June 10, 2021. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress)
VIDEO: B.C. family finds ‘perfect’ puppy with limb difference for 2-year-old Ivy

Ivy has special bond with Lucky the puppy who was also born with limb difference

A million-dollar ticket was sold to an individual in Vernon from the Lotto Max draw Friday, June 11, 2021. (Photo courtesy of BCLC)
Lottery ticket worth $1 million sold in Vernon

One lucky individual holds one of 20 tickets worth $1 million from Friday’s Lotto Max draw

“65 years, I’ve carried the stories in my mind and live it every day,” says Jack Kruger. (Athena Bonneau)
‘Maybe this time they will listen’: Survivor shares stories from B.C. residential school

Jack Kruger, living in Syilx territory, wasn’t surprised by news of 215 children’s remains found on the grounds of the former Kamloops Indian Residential School

A logging truck carries its load down the Elaho Valley near in Squamish, B.C. in this file photo. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chuck Stoody
Squamish Nation calls for old-growth logging moratorium in its territory

The nation says 44% of old-growth forests in its 6,900-square kilometre territory are protected while the rest remain at risk

Flowers and cards are left at a makeshift memorial at a monument outside the former Kamloops Indian Residential School to honour the 215 children whose remains are believed to have been discovered buried near the city in Kamloops, B.C., on Monday, May 31, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
‘Pick a Sunday:’ Indigenous leaders ask Catholics to stay home, push for apology

Indigenous leaders are calling on Catholics to stand in solidarity with residential school survivors by not attending church services

“They will never be forgotten, every child matters,” says Sioux Valley Chief Jennifer Bone in a video statement June 1. (Screen grab)
104 ‘potential graves’ detected at site of former residential school in Manitoba

Sioux Valley Dakota Nation working to identify, repatriate students buried near former Brandon residential school

The Queen Victoria statue at the B.C. legislature was splattered with what looks like red paint on Friday. (Nicole Crescenzi/News Staff)
Queen Victoria statue at B.C. legislature vandalized Friday

Statue splattered with red paint by old growth forest proponents

Most Read