Karen Bourne in her backyard, an Oak Bay oasis of enamel. (Black Press Media file photo)

Karen Bourne in her backyard, an Oak Bay oasis of enamel. (Black Press Media file photo)

Looking back at the top Oak Bay stories of 2020

Five stories that captured the interest of Oak Bay News readers over the past year

While COVID-19 dominated the headlines around the world in 2020, that wasn’t the only story to pique the interest of Oak Bay News readers. Here are some of our favourite articles that appeared in the Oak Bay News this year.

Council approves wolf sculpture for Cattle Point

At first glance, the giant 25,000-pound marble sculpture doesn’t look like a wolf.

But step closer and the natural impression of a howling wolf becomes clearly visible on the broad face of the stone. It is complete with the natural details of a mouth, eye and chin line. Most of the features were already there when artist Kent Laforme sourced the stone in a Chemainus stone yard. But since May it has resided below a cathedral of fir and arbutus trees in Laforme’s outdoor Cordova Bay studio. It’s there that Laforme has slowly and carefully chipped away at hundreds of stone projects over the past 20 years.

In October, Oak Bay council approved the Takaya sculpture project to be permanently installed at Cattle Point.

Takaya was killed by a hunter in March after an eight-year run on Tl’ches (Discovery and Chatham Islands). The wolf’s legacy continues to grow, in part because the end of his life was closely monitored following his failed relocation after his January excursion to James Bay.

Looking Back: It took two years, $500,000 to build Oak Bay Marina in 1964

Before settlers, the shores along what is now known as Oak Bay bustled with canoes as the Indigenous Lekwungen-speaking people of the area sustainably thrived in villages there for thousands of years.

In 1851, the Hudson Bay Company sold its first section of the Victoria ward to HBC’s John Tod. By the 1890s much of (what would be) Oak Bay was sought after and development was underway. But it wasn’t until the construction of the Mount Baker Hotel in 1893 that Turkey Head became a regular boat launch.

Then came the 1902 fire that destroyed the Mount Baker Hotel. In 1908, the owners of a new Oak Bay Hotel at Beach Drive and Windsor Drive (later known as the Old Charming Inn) had Sam Maclure design a boathouse on piles that was capable of hosting guests. One report says it was built on the Orchard Avenue side of Turkey Head and moved to the other side, where the marina currently stands, in 1915.

By the late 1950s Bill Faith, an Irish immigrant, was the boathouse lessee and also had big ideas for a marina. But it took the ambition and talents of Bob Wright to string it all together.

With the 1962 construction of Oak Bay’s first and only 10-storey building, the Rudyard Kipling condo at Beach and Windsor, and the subsequent completion of the marina, the traditional Oak Bay landscape was revamped. Eventually, the marina opened Sealand from 1969 to 1992, but that is another story.

Oak Bay toilet garden brings relief in a time of stress

For the last decade, visitors on a narrow path between Mountjoy and Falkland roads in south Oak Bay have witnessed an enamel oasis like no other.

The gravel pathway is charming in itself, with a ceiling of branches on one end that neighbour Tom Bourne regularly clips, creating a tunnel effect about four metres long. Next to the tunnel is the Bournes’ garden, where Tom and Karen keep two dozen toilets recycled into garden planters.

The toilets come in a rainbow of colours and are an icebreaker for conversation. In fact, they’ve even become a destination, Karen said.

“A lot of people tell us they’ve never seen anything like it,” she said. “Walking groups make it a destination, gardeners will knock on the door, and people will ask if we need a toilet.”

The answer right now is no, they have enough toilets, thank you.

“Unless it’s a real bright red,” Karen said, “but I don’t think we’re going to find one.”

Oak Bay United Church votes to pause any development

The Oak Bay United Church congregation voted to step back and will not move forward with its latest proposal for a rental housing development that would have put between 36 to 68 housing units within 250 metres of Oak Bay Village.

It ends a process that went public in 2017 but started even before that.

The church had decided on the 96-unit proposal it submitted to Oak Bay in 2018. It faced significant push back from a group of neighbours and was withdrawn before the necessary rezoning application ever made it to Oak Bay council.

However, the church did not give up on the idea of affordable housing. Last year Oak Bay United reached out to the Property Resource Team of The Pacific Mountain Region, an arm of the United Church of Canada. The property resource team conducted a feasibility study regarding the possibility of a purpose-built rental housing project at the property and brought back three proposals, which range from 36 to 68 units. The study came back with three scenarios and none of them resembled the previous proposal either in the number of housing units or site layout.

Because the church’s goal was to operate rental units, including below-market-rate units, a high threshold was needed to keep the project in the green, said Reverend Keith Howard.

“We are not closing the door on a future proposal,” Howard said. “The number of housing units that are involved in their proposal, to make it economically feasible, is more than 36 to 68 units. That number is a long way from what we had hoped.”

Oak Bay Lodge to be demolished

A request for proposals released in December shows that Oak Bay Lodge is scheduled to be razed.

The new RFP from the Capital Regional Hospital District seeks a construction manager to “procure and manage the deconstruction and demolition of the existing buildings” on the 3.9-acre site at 2251 Cadboro Bay Rd.

The budget for the demolition is estimated at $1.4 million, and includes hazardous material removal.

It is likely the final end to any speculation about using the facility to house either the senior portion (over 55), or all, of the people currently sheltering in Victoria parks. BC Housing had already declined on pursuing the matter earlier this fall.

The CRHD is in the process of planning that community consultation for early 2021, and will seek community feedback on the future use of the Oak Bay Lodge site.

The public engagement process will include significant notification to ensure that residents are informed of the opportunity for public input, said the CRD in a statement.


 

Do you have a story tip? Email: vnc.editorial@blackpress.ca.

Follow us on Twitter and Instagram, and like us on Facebook.

vnc.editorial@blackpress.ca

Best of 2020Year in Review

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

 

Artist Kent Laforme with the Takaya sculpture in his Cordova Bay studio. (Black Press Media file photo)

Artist Kent Laforme with the Takaya sculpture in his Cordova Bay studio. (Black Press Media file photo)

Oak Bay is seeking new ideas for the use of Turkey Head in its request for proposals to renew the lease of Oak Bay Marina and Turkey Head. (Black Press Media file photo)

Oak Bay is seeking new ideas for the use of Turkey Head in its request for proposals to renew the lease of Oak Bay Marina and Turkey Head. (Black Press Media file photo)

Oak Bay signs that protest the United Church’s development proposal ask why people with stately-sized houses fear that they will lose something if someone else gains. (Black Press Media File Photo)

Oak Bay signs that protest the United Church’s development proposal ask why people with stately-sized houses fear that they will lose something if someone else gains. (Black Press Media File Photo)

Consultation for the redevelopment of the Oak Bay Lodge property will be conducted this fall. (Black Press Media file photo)

Consultation for the redevelopment of the Oak Bay Lodge property will be conducted this fall. (Black Press Media file photo)

Just Posted

Coaches with the Juan de Fuca Minor Hockey association have had to get creative during their weekly practices to keep players interested and improving their skills without physical contact. (Damian Kowalewich photo)
West Shore minor hockey coach shares what it’s like on the ice without parents, fans

Most practices consist of relay races, goalie shots and passing drills

The Songhees Wellness Centre is a symbol of First Nations strength in the region. Representatives of local First Nations will soon play a greater role in decision making and governance relating to the Capital Regional District. (Courtesy Royal Roads University)
Capital Regional District to add First Nations representatives to advisory committees

Board approves bylaw, looks forward to Indigenous input on future decisions

Central Saanich will investigate ways in which the municipality along with funding partners Sidney and North Saanich can financially support the Panorama Recreation Centre. (Black Press Media File)
Central Saanich to spell out options for financially supporting Panorama Recreation Centre

Municipality looks for best use of COVID-19 restart grant worth some $3.5 million

Willow, a kitten belonging to a Victoria family, was rescued by firefighters on Thursday after she got stuck in a basement drain pipe. (City of Victoria/Twitter)
Victoria kitten stuck in basement drain pipe rescued by firefighters

Willow the cat on the mend, owner feeling ‘enormous gratitude’

(Black Press Media file photo)
Blue-green algae bloom confirmed in Elk Lake, water-based activities not recommended

Blue-green algae can be lethal to dogs, cause health issues for humans

Justin Kripps of Summerland and his team have competed in Olympic action and World Cup competitions in bobsleigh. (Jason Ransom-Canadian Olympic Comittee).
QUIZ: Are you ready for some winter sports?

It’s cold outside, but there are plenty of recreation opportunities in the winter months

Tourists take photographs outside the British Columbia Legislature in Victoria, B.C., on Friday August 26, 2011. A coalition of British Columbia tourism industry groups is urging the provincial government to not pursue plans to ban domestic travel to fight the spread of COVID-19. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
B.C. travel ban will harm struggling tourism sector, says industry coalition

B.C. government would have to show evidence a travel ban is necessary

(Black Press Media file photo)
From arts to environment, nominate your West Shore hero

Nominations for the Goldstream Gazette’s Local Hero awards are open to Jan. 15

(Phil McLachlan - Capital News)
‘Targeted’ shooting in Coquitlam leaves woman in hospital

The woman suffered non-life threatening injuries in what police believe to be a targeted shooting Saturday morning

JaHyung Lee, “Canada’s oldest senior” at 110 years old, received his first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine on Thursday, Jan. 14, 2021. He lives at Amenida Seniors Community in Newton. (Submitted photo: Amenida Seniors Community)
A unique-looking deer has been visiting a Nanoose Bay property with its mother. (Frieda Van der Ree photo)
A deer with 3 ears? Unique animal routinely visits B.C. property

Experts say interesting look may be result of an injury rather than an odd birth defect

Terry David Mulligan. (Submitted photo)
Podcast: Interview with longtime actor/broadcaster and B.C. resident Terry David Mulligan

Podcast: Talk includes TDM’s RCMP career, radio, TV, wine, Janis Joplin and much more

Lilly and Poppy, two cats owned by Kalmar Cat Hotel ownder Donna Goodenough, both have cerebellAr hypoplasia, a genetic neurological condition that affects their ability to control their muscles and bones. Photo by Alistair Taylor – Campbell River Mirror
VIDEO: Wobbly Cats a riot of flailing legs and paws but bundles of love and joy to their owner

Woman urges others to not fear adopting cats with disabilities

Seasonal influenza vaccine is administered starting each fall in B.C. and around the world. (Langley Advance Times)
After 30,000 tests, influenza virtually nowhere to be found in B.C.

COVID-19 precautions have eliminated seasonal infection

Most Read