Pat Battles says she supports Pat Battles in joining her on Linkleas Avenue.
Do not adjust your newspaper. There are two Pat Battles – the former, who already lives on Linkleas, and one who is proposing to subdivide her property at 602 Newport Ave., where she’s lived 31 years. The latter now proposes to build a 1,940-square-foot, 1.5-storey home on the back half, which will also be on Linkleas.
In doing so, Battles, the Newport Battles that is, proposes to designate her current home as heritage. However, council postponed the vote until next week.
“I’d like to preserve this home and garden. It is well-designed, enhances the Newport streetscape, and has a rich social history,” Battles told council at Monday’s public hearing. “Many of us have seen friends move out of Oak Bay in order to find a one-level home with an easy garden that permits pets… as they prepare for future mobility issues and caregiving needs.”
We now have a speaker named Pat Battles, the same name as the applicant. She is not the applicant. She supports the application. She is the OB Block watch captain of Linkleas. She called it "upper Linkleas." #oakbaycouncil
— travisApaterson (@TravisAPaterson) July 9, 2019
Oak Bay council chambers were standing room only for the Monday night public hearing as about two dozen speakers took to the mic. Council also asked many questions of staff but postponed the decision until next week as Coun. Eric Zhelka arrived late and missed a good portion of the hearing. Zhelka was on his way back to Oak Bay when he was held up in traffic during the aftermath of Monday’s three-vehicle crash on the Pat Bay Highway.
Battle’s proposal for 602 Newport would split the 14,400-square-foot lot into an 8,156-square-foot lot where the heritage house is. Battles would then age in place in the remaining 6,243-square-foot lot. To do so, she’s committed to paying a $40,000 deposit for the heritage revitalization agreement.
Architect John Keay pointed out the density matches many of the previously subdivided lots in the neighbourhood, including half of the lots between 602 Newport and Central Avenue.
The existing home is a little over 3,000 sq. ft., including the basement. Its name, Logie Lea, is courtesy of its original owners, Oswald and Clara Dorman (‘Logie’ being short for the Scottish word Kellogie, which is ‘the sheltered space before the kiln fire,’ and ‘Lea’ defined as grassland).
Wendy Amos, a 42-year resident of the neighbourhood, was among the many supporters who agreed the proposal fit with the character of the neighbourhood.
“[Battles] should be commended for pursuing this for years,” Amos said. “I know the area well.”
Amos was also among the supporters who argued that without a heritage covenant and subdivision, the property will eventually be sold and that the house on 602 Newport will soon be replaced by a massive new house.
“One of the nearby homes is so large my grandson thinks it’s a hotel,” said Frank Wilson, a neighbour in support.
Among the chief concerns of the opponents are the impacts of the added density by paving some of the greenspace where the new lot will go. Another concern often echoed was the impact on the ambience of Linkleas, a popular lane for walking.
Some of the residents, such as Bob Louie, spoke about the importance of connecting small pockets of green spaces in Oak Bay, the same kind seen along the front entrances of properties on Linkleas. Louie even asked Oak Bay to consider a way to connect these pockets of green spaces.
“Here in Oak Bay we have an urban paradise at our feet,” Louie said. “We need to document what we have and make recommendations on how to improve it…”
And while there was a neighbourhood campaign of letters opposed to the 602 Newport proposal distributed in recent weeks and months, none of Monday’s speakers laid claim to the pamphlets, though some defended them. One of the pamphlets asked who will speak for the owls or the California quails, the latter which were long ago introduced to the area (but have since dwindled in numbers).
Most of the opponents who spoke also took issue with Oak Bay’s future widening of Linkleas Avenue, which is only about 3.5 to 4 metres wide. Linkleas is slated to be widened to five metres when it is inevitably dug up to replace the sewer and water mains that were installed 100 years ago and have outlived their lifespan.