Residents behind the proposed first Heritage Conservation Area in Oak Bay are buoyed by assignment of senior staff and council’s recent approval of a working group.
The proposed HCA is bordered by York Place, San Carlos Avenue, a portion of Beach Drive and Oak Bay Avenue, and includes both Prospect Place and Broom Road. It also includes the shoreline of Rattenbury’s Beach and Haynes Park. Municipal and regional governments can create a Heritage Conservation Area that establishes regulatory guidelines and may list individual properties for protection. It would be Oak Bay’s first HCA, but there are about 60 in B.C. with several in Victoria.
Resident of the neighbourhood met earlier this summer with Warren Jones, Oak Bay’s director of corporate services, tasked as lead senior staff member on the initiative.
“We’re encouraged by this development. We were concerned when we heard the director of building and planning had stepped down, we worried briefly this might mean a loss of momentum,” said Michael Prince, among the residents who spearheaded the movement. “The working group was passed before the summer recess.”
Council doesn’t meet again until September. In the meantime, the working group will form.
In a report to council, Jones noted public engagement and participation are key to the HCA project, and the first order is crafting a working group to work with council, municipal staff consultants and the community.
“While there are HCA examples in other communities that can be learned from it is important to recognize that each HCA may be unique depending on its history, heritage values and community priorities,” Jones wrote in his report. “So while there are HCA examples it is essential the potential Oak Bay HCA reflect the values and aspirations of people in the neighbourhood and the community as a whole. Informing and engaging the community will be critical throughout this process.”
Members will come from the Advisory Design Panel, Advisory Planning Commission, Heritage Commission, Parks, Recreation and Culture Commission, residents of the neighbourhood, residents of the community and a council liaison.
“It’s important that public awareness be raised, that is a worthwhile and important function,” Prince said. “I think there is interest more generally across the municpality. So this public awareness communications activity in the fall … it will be ain important warming up activity.”
Alongside staff, the working group is expected to prepare a comprehensive project work plan to come before council. Council has set aside $45,000 in the 2017 budget to assist in the HCA project.
“We’ll be a significant presence, our job will be to ensure that momentum is maintained,” Prince said.