Imagine 8 years in the future. It’s been ten years since the first ideas about Oak Bay Square were published in the Oak Bay News.
Here I am sat outside Starbucks waiting for Mayor Nils Jensen to join me for the opening of the square. It’s a beautiful June afternoon on this National Holiday, known as National Aboriginal Day in Canada. I was up early this morning for the Summer Solstice ceremony at Cattle Point Star Park. It was very moving. Nature gifted us with a perfect sunrise at around 5:10 am.
The Salish ceremony was quite breathtaking.
The new square is in perfect synchronicity with the recent 2024 opening of the Salish Sea World Heritage Site. Oak Bay truly is at the “Heart of the Salish Sea”.
As I have an hour to wait before my appointment with Nils, I thought I’d take the time to paint the scene for you in a series of BLOG entries.
ex-Mayor Nils Jensen is without doubt the driving force behind this major municipal development. It was only when he got behind the project in 2020, that the community realized it might be financially viable.
At first there was serious doubt how this could ever be funded, but with the new financial environment after the crash of 2018, it did not take long for our financial experts in the Oak Bay Rotary Club to devise a brilliant financing plan which was beneficial to everyone.
The key was giving the owners of Athlone Court, a plan which was clearly in their financial interest. In effect they exchanged title to the old Athlone Court, to title in the whole of the West Square which included the new Municipal Hall and the new West Wing with an expanded Fairways Food Market and offices and residences above it.
This whole exercise has allowed me to view the Oak Bay Beach Hotel though different lenses. I can now see how Kevin Walker has really built something of great beauty which is true to the Oak Bay “mock-tudor” vision.
His local Architect Bas Smith (now unfortunately retired) has combined this old style, with all the very latest materials. Even the locally manufactured BC Windows seem to work and do not diminish the design.
So what if we adopted this “look and feel” as the “look and feel” of Oak Bay Square? Good plan?
It should appeal to all those Oak Bay citizens who want to maintain the “traditional” mock-tudor style. It should also allow the project to benefit from the massive investment in all kinds of high-quality features that Kevin insisted be a part of the hotel. The Oak Bay Square development project can benefit from his experience. Complex challenges like building the underground parking, optimizing the size of units, managing the design of the roof and incorporating all the leading edge energy saving systems, will all benefit from the hotel construction experience. Oak Bay Square need not reinvent these solutions – rather benefit from the “lessons learned”.
And the look and quality is consistent with the early vision for Oak Bay Square.
So as you study Rupert Slights renditions imagine the “black and whites” replaced with “red-browns” as in the image of the hotel, above.
This image is of the new Municipal Hall located opposite Starbucks at the back of the South West side of the West Square. (ie It has Granite St. at its back and the huge square across to Starbucks, at its front). In the centre of the West Square there is a large bronze status of three people. These are three of the major personalities from the early days of Oak Bay, Rattenbury, Henderson, and Pemberton. The statue is modeled after “The Burgers of Calais” by Rodin now in the gardens of “The Houses of Parliament” in London.
The new building housing the Library and new Monterey Centre is adjacent on the South East side of the East Square across Hampshire. The 2-3 level underground parking lot fills both the East and West Squares with plenty of Customer AND Employee parking.
Feb 17, 2014 : Rupert Slight delivers the final “design image” complete with statue of Tilikum in east square and with lots of little people.
Oak Bay Official Community Plan Renewal
The Past the Present Choosing Our Future
Community Open House
As the next step in the Official Community Plan (OCP) Renewal process, the District is hosting a community open house. Information will be available on:
- The results of the community survey
- Draft goals and objectives for the OCP
Please attend so you can review this information and discuss it with District staff, consultants and the OCP Advisory Committee
What is an OCP?
An OCP guides a municipality’s land use and development. It provides the policy framework for Council in addressing decisions on housing, transportation, infrastructure, parks, economic development, and the natural and social environment.
Open House Details
Saturday February 15, 2014 1:00 – 4:00 pm
Oak Bay Recreation Centre, Sports View Lounge
1975 Bee Street
What if I cannot attend?
The information will be available on the District’s website and at the Municipal Hall.
Oak Bay is a Canadian Municipality close to Victoria on Vancouver Island. It has a wonderful waterfront facing the Salish Sea and looking east to Mount Baker in Washington, and South East to Seattle and the Puget Sound. Oak Bay is one of the favorite tourist spots for visitors exploring Vancouver Island.
The idea behind this project is to develop a vision of how Oak Bay Village might be redeveloped to enhance the village as a place to live and work, to improve the village as a tourist and business destination, and to offer options for the inevitable work that needs to be done for earthquake readiness.
Imagine the whole centre of Oak Bay rebuilt around two large squares which would be the centre of activity both in summer and winter.
So this website provides ideas around just one possible “vision” for a square we are calling “QUEEN ELIZABETH II SQUARE”.