Stone walls and gravel pathways in the Prospect neighbourhood are protected under the new Heritage Conservation Area bylaw. (Photos from Oakbay.ca HCA report)

Oak Bay’s first heritage conservation area close to completion

Heritage bylaw for The Prospect neighbourhood in final phase

Oak Bay’s first heritage conservation area bylaw is nearly finalized.

Council had first and second readings on Monday night and sent it back to staff with only some minor requests to make the executive summary a bit less confusing, said Mayor Kevin Murdoch.

The bylaw lists a schedule of “historic” features on 35 properties such as stone walls, landscaping and patios in The Prospect neighbourhood that was developed by Frances Rattenbury and John Tiarks, as well as others. In total, it applies to 55 properties.

The solid black line depicts the proposed HCA boundaries as of March 6, 2017. The dashed line identifies Glenlyon Norfolk School campus with its three heritage designated buildings on the original Rattenbury estate. (Image from oakbay.ca)

However, the HCA bylaw does not replace the individual heritage designation, which is where some of the confusion came in the public input portion of Monday’s council session.

READ MORE: Public meets for proposed heritage-protected neighbourhood in Oak Bay

“It can be confusing, so we wanted to clear that up,” Murdoch said. “[The HCA] applies to the external portion of houses and for the scheduled assets. At the end of the day, it’s a soft protection mechanism that creates a conversation.”

The scope of the bylaw “applies to,” rather than “protects,” features from the early days of The Prospect neighbourhood’s creation about 120 years ago. This includes a preference to use permeable pathways and driveways, such as gravel, instead of asphalt. It also protects the rock and stone walls that were popular at the time.

At the same time, it is not difficult to get new permits. It does not apply to the interior of homes or structures under 10 square metres. In fact, it’s true purpose in forcing homeowners in The Prospect to “have a conversation” about any changes they want to do and to ensure they are sympathetic within the context of the neighbourhood, Murdoch said.

“If people want to protect their houses, individually, that is best done through designation,” Murdoch said. “This identifies assets on those properties that would need an alteration permit.”

READ ALSO: Oak Bay grants 60 days of protection for century-old mansion

The report identifies significant homes designed by some of B.C.’s most prominent architects from the late 19th and early 20th century such as Rattenbury, Tiarks, Samuel Maclure, Karl Spurgin, Ralph Berrill, Percy L. James and more.

The styles are referred to as Queen Anne, Tudor Revival and Classical Revival, though contemporary buildings are also recognized, such as a 1996-built house designed by Pamela Charlesworth and the 1992-built Barwin House by Campbell Moore.

One anomaly is that half a dozen of the homes which fall in the HCA are in the gated subdivision at the end of York Place. They have a covenant on that stratified property which is already quite strict in itself.

So far it’s been a four-year process since the HCA working group review started with heritage consultants and representations from committees, the community and Prospect residents. All together they created the guidelines. It underwent review by staff, passed committee of the whole, and has been submitted through the advisory planning design panel and heritage commission.

It will return for a public hearing on Feb. 24.

reporter@oakbaynews.com


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