Editorial: Boosting heritage presence a worthy initiative

Looking at ways to encourage the preservation of Oak Bay’s character is important to the community

As attention continues to focus on the community’s desire to preserve Oak Bay’s heritage and character in the face of development pressure, the district’s heritage commission has pitched a greater role.

Chair Cairine Green would like to see the commission play a greater role over the next two years in land use decision-making and housing policy development.

The intent is to become more proactive in heritage conservation through initiatives like an in-house review of the role of the Heritage Commission generally and seek ways to improve its support of land use planning in Oak Bay.

Part of that would include looking at ways Oak Bay might work with Victoria or other municipality with heritage planning expertise, to guide updates to heritage policies and practices.

The commission would like to see a heritage lens applied to various municipal initiatives such as the urban forest strategy, and encourage more heritage-designated homes, and homes on the heritage register.

The most recent push follows the call – and widespread support – for Oak Bay’s first Heritage Conservation Area.

“If this project is a success, it does lay the groundwork for completing some heritage work that is lasting,” Green said.

That heritage should be a consideration in land-use planning seems to be a no-brainer in a community where a significant part of the appeal comes from its character and streetscapes.

That doesn’t mean preventing new homes from being built or stopping people from renovating to make an older home livable for today’s families.

But looking at ways to encourage the preservation of Oak Bay’s character and acknowledging in a formal way that this is important, is groundwork worth laying.