Green committee targets Runnymede proposal

Carolyn Chodeck

Important to keep treed properties intact, it says

Growing up as a kid in the 1960s on McNeill Street was a wondrous time for Barbara Julian.

In the fall, she and her pals would gather up piles of leaves at the foot of rocky outcroppings and leap down into them.

“It was real, simple unsophisticated play, but it taught us a lot,” said Julian, who now lives in Victoria.

Playing amongst the large properties that line Mountjoy Avenue, kids learned how to get along. “Without adult supervision we created our own rules and settled disagreements.”

The tree-filled properties in her South Oak Bay neighbourhood afforded opportunities to learn lessons that Julian fears are disappearing.

She and nine others, all members of the Oak Bay Green Committee, recently walked the Mountjoy neighbourhood, stopping at 2031 Runnymede Pl., a property that includes a heritage-designated house and garden. The group is upset that Oak Bay council is considering an application from potential purchaser and developer Bruce Wilkin to remove heritage designation on a portion of the property to allow for subdividing.

Proceeds from the sale of a lot, Wilkin has said, would finance renovation of the 1916 house known as Blair Gowie and designed by Samuel Maclure.

Subdividing the property would change the nature of the neighbourhood, not just aesthetically, but ecologically, Julian said.

“I’m not just talking about bushes beside a driveway being removed, but where you have large tracts within a community which are filled with oxygen and shade trees (being altered).”

Such tracts of land provide habitat for birds, insects and other small life that contribute to a healthy ecology, she said.

“Cities are heat islands that contribute to global warming and the only way to prevent that is to not take all the trees down.”

Oak Bay Coun. Nils Jensen said, however, the proposal is worthy of consideration.

“It will serve a number of purposes,” he said.

“It will allow the main house to be fully upgraded and preserved, and at the same time allow the grounds to be brought back to their one-time splendour. Right now the grounds have kind of deteriorated over time and it doesn’t have the pleasant rural feel of the area.

“I think that in exchange for those positive improvements a small house in the back would be appropriate.”

This Friday (Jan. 21) the Oak Bay Green Committee meets at the Monterey library from 3:30 to 6 p.m. They’ll discuss how to convince council to reject the subdivision proposal. Anyone interested in the issue is welcome to attend.

“It’s not just a protest meeting,” Julian said. “We will have tea, books, maps and art and we’ll be able to talk about the future of Oak Bay.”

vmoreau@oakbaynews.com

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

PHOTOS: Families, spectators wave goodbye to Navy Task Force from Victoria shorelines

HCMS Winnipeg and HCMS Regina sailing to Hawaiian training exercise, further deployments

COVID-inspired RV sales soaring on West Shore and beyond

Health restrictions, recommendations keep Vancouver Island vacationers closer to home

UPDATE: Pedestrian injured in collision on Hillside Avenue

Traffic impacted between Douglas and Blanshard streets

371 British Columbians battling COVID-19, health officials confirm

Thursday (Aug. 6) saw a second straight day of nearly 50 new confirmed cases

Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers wanted list for the week of Aug. 4

Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers is seeking the public’s help in locating the… Continue reading

POLL: Should it be mandatory to wear masks when out in public?

B.C. is witnessing an alarming rise in the number of cases of… Continue reading

Cowichan RCMP use spike belts to end car chase — man in custody

The driver was arrested at the scene a short distance from his vehicle

COVID-19 tests come back negative for remote First Nation

“There are no suspected cases in the community at this time.”

Visitors and non-residents entering closed remote B.C. First Nation’s territories

With limited resources, they say they don’t have any authority or power to enforce the closures

UBC loses appeal on Fisheries Act convictions

BC Supreme Court upholds order to pay $1.55-million fine

Masks to be mandatory on BC Transit, TransLink starting Aug. 24

Both BC Transit and TransLink made the announcement in separate press releases on Thursday

Acclaimed B.C. actor Brent Carver passes away

Carver, one of Canada’s greatest actors with a career spanning 40 years, passed away at home in Cranbrook

Most Read