Paul Ziakin has concerns about the future of housing options and affordability in his Oak Bay neighbourhood after learning he would be renovicted from his suite in a 20th century Beach Drive house. (Nina Grossman/News Staff)

Oak Bay grants 60 days of protection for century-old mansion

J.W. Morris House slated for removal by Abstract Developments

A group of Oak Bay residents working to prevent the demolition of another heritage home got a boost last week when councillors voted to grant a 60-day protection order.

Currently owned by Abstract Developments, the 10,000 sq. ft. J.W. Morris House was designed by architects Douglas and Percy Leonard in 1912 for $25,000. Now a multi-unit building, seven families call 1558 Beach Drive home. But on Aug. 27 tenants received notice from building manager NVision they had four months to find new homes thanks to asbestos removal and remediation. That was followed by applications to Oak Bay to remove the house, demolish its foundation and build a single-family home in its place.

Residents were offered compensation in the form of free rent or cash (dependent on length of tenancy), payment for moving expenses and assistance in finding new living arrangements.

READ ALSO: Oak Bay heritage property to spawn a new lot

The Beach Drive house has no heritage designation, but stands amongst the scenic roads and architecturally crafted homes of the proposed Heritage Conservation Area (HCA) in Oak Bay’s Prospect neighbourhood.

In a letter to council, a heritage group describes the home as “the most prominent and arguably most significant building” within the proposed HCA.

“This historic structure is an important part of the streetscape, giving an accurate ‘historic snapshot’ of our shared cultural community,” the letter reads.

The group asked council to consider adding the property to the Heritage Register and establish a protection period during the HCA policy development process. The letter came with a petition signed by more than 500 residents and community members “eager to support the retention and restoration of 1558 Beach Drive.”

On Sept. 12, Oak Bay council approved a 60-day protection order for the property.

On Sept. 12 the District of Oak Bay placed a 60-day temporary protection order on an early 20th century Beach Drive house. The house was built for J.W. Morris in 1912 and is within the proposed heritage control area being developed for District Council. (Nina Grossman/News Staff)

READ ALSO: Oak Bay’s Logie Lea house designated heritage

Stephanie Long and her partner moved in more than two years ago. She calls the home “beautiful, old and basically a heritage home,” describing the structure’s distinctive exterior stone columns, stained glass and elaborate wood paneling.

“We’re sad to leave, it’s a great spot – being right on the water, the view, the neighbourhood…” she said. “The general consensus of the whole building is everyone is very upset and sad.”

Paul Ziakin has called 1558 Beach Dr. home for six years. The retiree is unsure of the future now that he has to leave his single-bedroom garden suite.

“I think there’s alternatives to tearing down a business that houses seven families, just so one person can build one house for themselves,” he said. His biggest concern is affordability and housing options, something he sees dwindling away in the community he loves. Ziakin said he’ll likely move up Island in order to find something affordable.

Staff expect to provide an updated report to Oak Bay council at its next regular meeting Sept. 30.



nina.grossman@blackpress.ca

Follow us on Instagram
Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Just Posted

Saanich Recreation needs volunteers at Commonwealth Place

Welcome Ambassadors needed at Saanich Commonwealth Place to engage with, direct, and inform visitors

Saanich Peninsula Chamber of Commerce honours former Sidney mayor Marie Rosko

Rosko received lifetime achievement award during 2019 Crystal Awards

Sooke School District names new Royal Bay Secondary principal

Former vice-principal Mike Huck promoted to principal, effective Nov. 4

Man seriously injured after fall from Johnson Street Bridge

Police say incident stands as public safety reminder

Birders flocking to Greater Victoria after rare warbler sighting

Tiny bird draws big audience to Panama Flats

VIDEO: Explosion, fire sends woman running from Saanich home

Heavy smoke in the area, crews on scene

BC Ferries crew member taken to hospital after getting struck by bow doors

Two sailings between Horseshoe Bay and Departure Bay were cancelled

Greta Thunberg meets with First Nations chief in Fort McMurray

Thunberg has turned her protest against climate change into a global movement

Canucks hang on for 3-2 win over Rangers in New York

Vancouver scores three times in first period

More beef products recalled due to possible E. coli contamination

The food safety watchdog has been investigating possible E. coli 0157:H7

B.C. VIEWS: How to get the best deal on your ICBC car insurance

ICBC slowly being dragged into the 21st century

Pot legalization has gone ‘well’, but ‘yellow flags’ on vaping: task force chair

Canada legalized cannabis for non-medical use on Oct. 17, 2018,

Most Read