The top story in Oak Bay this year entailed a harrowing and chilly rescue of one Oak Bay sailor.
The temperature dipped to -2 C the night of Feb. 11 as resident David Taggart worked on his two boats, a 36-foot steel-hulled cruiser and his 27-foot Catalina sailboat tethered together in the open water next to Oak Bay Marina.
At noon, wind and waves caused one of his four lines lashing the boats together to snap. He wasn’t worried until about 5 p.m. when his dingy submerged and the outboards on both the Catalina and the dingy popped off, left hanging by their chains. He was stranded and called 911.
The call was transferred to the Joint Rescue Coordination Centre dispatch which called in the Royal Canadian Marine Search and Rescue station at Oak Bay Marina.
Using their iconic orange rigid-hull inflatable boat, the Enterprise crew brought Taggart’s boat to the Canadian customs slip, next to the Royal Canadian Marine Search & Rescue Station 33 boathouse, where they received permission to leave it overnight.
Leash before you beach
In June, a handful of residents approached council asking members to revisit the idea of allowing dogs on Willows Beach, in some capacity, from May 1 through Sept. 30. Dogs are banned in general during that period.
Not long after, Oak Bay and Victoria received letters from the federal government outlining its guidelines for the Victoria Harbour Migratory Bird Sanctuary. Among the rules – no person who owns a dog or cat shall permit the dog or cat to run at large in a migratory bird sanctuary.
The sanctuary, established in 1923, starts at the high water mark at 10 Mile Point in Saanich and stretches across the shorelines of Oak Bay, Victoria, Saanich, View Royal and Esquimalt.
In the letter, Environment and Climate Change Canada said it had received numerous complaints over interactions with off-leash dogs and migratory birds in Greater Victoria over the last few years. Council maintained the May 1 to Sept. 30 dog-free zone and reminded residents to “leash before you beach” once pets and owners were allowed to return. A federal study into the area is expected to be complete in 2022.
Neighbour thwarts scam house sale
Getting to know the neighbours saved one Oak Bay homeowner from having their home sold by a scammer.
Using a series of emails and fake identification, someone listed a residence on Bartlett Drive for sale without the consent of the legal owner, Oak Bay police said.
Someone pretending to be the owner contacted a property management company representative in early February, the house was listed and there were showings to potential buyers.
The scam didn’t get that far, however, as a neighbour walking by noticed the realty sign and contacted the actual owner of the residence. The owner contacted the realtor to advise of the fraud and the listing was removed.
While the sale was avoided, police did not identify a suspect, as there was limited information and no witnesses ever met anyone in person.
A seven-year process to subdivide an Island Road property hit a costly hurdle after nearly 1,000 hours of time spent. Rob and Anita Parris followed the steps laid out for them by Oak Bay staff, including lot surveys and camera inspections of pipes that cross their property on an easement.
In November 2020, they got their preliminary layout consideration from Oak Bay, a key document that outlines the final steps for the subdivision. It included an estimate for $300,000 in off-site service fees such as road widening and paving, trail development along Earn and Island roads, service upgrades, power pole siting, and landscape installation.
Municipal staff say it’s not uncommon for applicants in Oak Bay to pay as much as $400,000 for offsite servicing, though the numbers fluctuate based on needs.
Heritage house protection order
In March, Oak Bay council applied a 60-day temporary protection order to a house at 2072 Hampshire Rd.
Part of the home dates back to the 1880s, however, details of the original heritage elements are inconsistent, said Lucas Corwin, who remembers growing up in the house in the 1980s. Much of it was altered during extensive 1980s renovations.
A five-sibling ownership group that inherited the property from their parents planned to move the old house off the 32,000 square foot lot and then sell the land. The plan was to move it to Metchosin where a sibling would live in it.
Council voted unanimously to apply a 60-day order as the house, while not designated as heritage, is listed in Oak Bay’s Community Heritage register. It is said to represent early Oak Bay settlers and was a part of the Tod farm. Council subsequently removed the order before the 60 days expired.
Live streaming new life
A runner up for the Top 5 in readers’ minds sparked joy across Greater Victoria. A Victoria man created a livestream of a hummingbird and her two chicks.
Ian Taylor and his family first noticed a hummingbird nest in their yard last year, structured around a hanging light on their deck. Seeing how much joy watching the mother bird and her chicks brought his two kids, Taylor decided to set up a livestream with an old smartphone so they could view it inside on their computer too.
Watching the chicks grow over a few weeks time before seeing them flap their wings and fly off was incredible, he said. So this year, when a new nest popped up on their wind chimes, Taylor decided to share the joy.
He went out, bought a camera and launched a livestream on YouTube so anyone could watch. Taylor said they were a little worried about the eggs surviving when the snowstorm hit, but they installed a heat lamp and on Feb. 15, two healthy little chicks emerged.