Thumbs up, down for home plans

Paving paradise isn’t cool in Oak Bay.

A property owner looking for permission to pave almost half of his Beach Drive lot as part of a design for a new home was turned down this week.

Jamie Gill, who hopes to remove an existing home at 1820 Beach Dr. and replace it with a 3,857-square-foot home, also wanted to create paved access to a two-car detached garage and a single garage attached to the home.

Under the plan, the paved area would cover 45 per cent of the lot. Current bylaws allow for just 25 per cent of the 7,100-sq.-ft. lot to be covered with non-permeable surface.

Oak Bay councillors were united in their opposition to Gill’s plans at Monday’s meeting. The design included removal of a mature Garry oak.

“Why don’t you just design around it,” Coun. Allan Cassidy asked flustered designer Tim Rodier, who didn’t realize the tree was protected under Oak Bay bylaws.

Quizzed by Coun. Nils Jensen about the need for three garage stalls, Rodier countered that “having three cars is common.” Owner Gill then stood up to say the attached garage would be handy when he needed a place to store a case of Coke.

“I am astounded that in a 4,000 sq. ft. house you don’t have room for a case of Coke,” Coun. Hazel Braithwaite said.

Cassidy, a practising architect, urged Rodier and Gill to consider reducing the scale of the house, something Rodier insisted had already been done.

Jensen didn’t mind the house design, but couldn’t support the pavement variance “just so you can have a garage.” His colleagues agreed and the applicants were asked to go back to the drawing board.

Futuristic home OK’d for Heron Street

A property owner with a contemporary house design for 2845 Heron St. had better luck at Monday night’s committee-of-the whole meeting.

Architect Adam Fawkes noted that although there are no other houses in the neighbourhood quite like the contemporary glass and stucco 2,909 square foot house with sloping roof, it would nevertheless fit into the neighbourhood because of its massing.

Cassidy didn’t agree that because the house was of similar height and breadth to neighbouring houses it would necessarily fit into the area.

“I have reservations about the style, but that’s not my call, it’s their’s – the people who will be walking by and seeing this,” he said.

The current home on the property will be removed by a house mover, Fawkes said.

In a report, the municipality’s Uplands advisory design panel gave the plans a thumbs up. Council members voted to move the request forward and neighbours will have the opportunity to provide input over the next two weeks.