Times have changed

Oak Bay is diverse and that’s what I love about it

I, like many, get raised eyebrows when I say that I live in Oak Bay. “Oh, you must be rich,” is the reply from most, but since moving here 10 years ago, my reply has always been, “Oh, but if you knew the people of Oak Bay, you would love the place as much as I do and part of its charm is that, yes, there are wealthy people but there are people like me too, lower income with small houses.”

Oak Bay is diverse and that’s what I love about it. The front page dated May 9, yet again encourages the stereotype that Oak Bay people are a “certain type” and if you don’t agree with what we like, you shouldn’t move into “our” neighbourhood.

This group says they don’t want modern box houses built in Oak Bay. I have a small, 1950s postwar house and my neighbours down the street have a beautiful 1912 house. Do you think when my house was built after the Second World War, perhaps by some well deserving veteran who fought for our freedom, that the neighbour in the 1912 house complained that my house wasn’t the same style as theirs? That they said, “We don’t want one-level, box-like houses in our neighbourhood?” Perhaps, mine was a vacant lot and the 1912 homeowner sold the land to the person who built my 1953 house thereby sharing the beauty of the Oak Bay with them. How times have changed.

I love the fact that there is an eclectic mix of houses on my street. The style of house often reflects the personalities of the people living in them and if they like modern, why shouldn’t they have a modern looking house? Having lived in two other countries and having witnessed the segregation of classes and religion it made me appreciate more than ever what it means to be a Canadian and to embrace our diversity.

How intolerant we’ve become of people who have different tastes than we do. How sad to think that we want people to conform to our tastes in building structures.

There are areas of Victoria where the houses all look the same; Broadmead and the new Westhills Development come to mind. Frankly, I like the fact that all the houses on my street are different, as are the people, and they are wonderful.

As long as the building meets safety codes, height restrictions and all the other requirements that the Oak Bay town hall sets, can’t we all just learn to be more tolerant and share the beauty and privilege we have in living in Oak Bay?

My only complaint as an appreciative Oak Bay resident, is that it could be a little warmer. My son said to me the other day, “Mom, if we could move Oak Bay with all my friends to Arizona, I’d be really happy.”

Margo Brody

Oak Bay