To each his own

Design is a choice for the homeowner

There is an old saying that you can’t legislate good taste.

Whether or not a new home planned to be built on Monterey Avenue is in good taste is not for us to say.

The owner of the property has decided to build a modern structure, one that takes advantage of the light and includes energy-efficient additions. It is being built within the confines of Oak Bay’s zoning regulations and bylaws.

Some neighbours are against the project due to the loss of mature trees, and some are worried about damage already caused to adjacent fences and property. These are significant concerns that should be taken into consideration when building a new home in a fully developed neighbourhood.

Most residents, however, are worried about what a more modern structure built among their traditional homes will look like.

The residents say the newer, more modern designs ruin the character of their neighbourhoods. They are adamant that Oak Bay council set up a design committee to decide what type of designs may be appropriate for the area. But therein lies the problem.

For some, two-storey structures may be acceptable, while others prefer a bungalow. Can a roof line be flat, or must it be peaked? And if peaked, what degree is acceptable? And if we open the door to design, where does it end? Will a committee choose what style of windows you can have, what style of doors? How about the colour of your home – do you still get to choose?

Change, as they say, is inevitable. As the housing stock ages, some older homes will have to be removed to make way for newer homes.

While new construction changes the character of a neighbourhood, it does not necessarily ruin it.

To add to the clichés, one man’s trash is another man’s treasure – more modern homes will include modern energy efficiencies, which is good for all of us. Trees removed will be replaced by new trees and plantings – perhaps more suitable to the local environment than the ones removed. Over time, landscaping will mature and the new homes will no longer stick out like sore thumbs.

We can’t control everything, least of all what our neighbours do. What we can do is create healthy discussion about real concerns such as fences being knocked down or damage to adjacent properties and leave the design ideas up to the owner. After all beauty is in the eye of the beholder.