A series of faces and historical photos fill a wall of the Social Lounge at the Oak Bay Recreation Centre.
The Wall of Fame Community Recognition was established to honour people instrumental in developing Oak Bay’s parks, facilities and programs and shown extraordinary commitment to the community. The Parks, Recreation and Culture Commission that oversees the program, is having a look at altering its existence.
Among the first inductees was Dunc Russell, known as the “Father of Municipal Recreation” and recognized as such when he was made a member of the Order of British Columbia in 1993. He came to Oak Bay on the request of the council of the day and, with strong community support, built the Oak Bay Recreation Centre that opened in October 1975. Russell retired as Director of Parks and Recreation in 1985 but continued to serve the community until his death
“He built what we have now and set the bar very high. He made us one of the best recreation centres in British Columbia,” said Coun. Hazel Braithwaite, council liaison to the Parks, Recreation and Culture Commission. “We, on a user-pay ratio, are far better than any other rec. centre.”
Ian Gilbert, Nancy Hill, Ken Hurn, Stan Petley Jones, Dunc Russell and Agnes Szilos were also recognized that first year, 2010. The next year, Joyce Bevan and Elsie Farr
Nominations close Feb. 28 each year with the applications reviewed by March 31 and recommended inclusions presented to council in April.
Despite a call out for nominations each year, none have been added since 2011.
“Which is fine, because you have to be deserving and fit the criteria,” Braithwaite said. “This year when the call went out we did have some interest and that caused us to have a look at the selection committee.”
As a result, last month Oak Bay amended its Wall of Fame policy to change the structure of the committee. Rather than being appointed by the mayor and council, the selection committee is now a subcommittee of the Parks, Recreation and Culture Commission and includes the commission’s council liaison, the chair of the commission and two representatives selected by the commission.
“What also came up is these do seem out of the way,” Braithwaite said.
“These people are very important to Oak Bay’s history as far as recreation and community goes, so I think it’s important that we make them more visible,” Braithwaite said. “Although at the time it was likely the best place to put them, it’s time to revisit that.”
The new Wall of Fame committee will look at potential sites and report back to the commission.
In the meantime, Braithwaite also sees potential to add to the recreation archive photos, which also adorn the wall.
“Maybe then we could incorporate those into this area. The archives is always looking for pictures.”