OAK BAY letter: Modern housing a conflict of cultures

Will we let Oak Bay degrade into an agglomeration of cubist housing? I hope not.

According to an article by Kerry Gold in the Globe and Mail of Saturday, May 31, Vancouver is losing its heritage homes.

The article is entitled “As pace of demolition quickens, protest grows.” The subtitle is “Over a three-year period, 2,243 west side houses have been torn down and replaced with new buildings.”

Why are those peons protesting? The new houses are obviously more beautiful than the old. The landfills could use more piles of irreplaceable old wood. The Institute of Civil Engineers says the new houses “use up to eight times more natural resources than the restoration of an equivalent old house.” Who cares as long as the developers are pumping big bucks into the starving city economy? Ha ha.

It appears there is a similar trend in Oak Bay. Here too, it seems that builders are looking around for so-called “demo-bait.”

We moved here because of the character of Oak Bay, and also the “characters” here: people who appreciate beauty and heritage more than size and comfort.

Could it be that in recent years, our civic leaders have become more interested in “development” than preservation? I’m fine with “densification” when it’s moderate and careful, such as allowing secondary suites. But I don’t understand those who think that tall buildings shaped like a box or a jumble of boxes are aesthetically pleasing.

In his 2005 book, The Cube and the Cathedral, George Weigel wrote of the loss of “civilizational morale” in Western Europe.

I disagree with most of his analysis of the reasons for this loss, but his use of the contrast between the modernist Grande Arche and the Notre Dame cathedral in Paris is an apt illustration of the conflict of cultures I see in Victoria.

Will we let Oak Bay degrade into an agglomeration of cubist housing? I hope not.

Jim Hill

Oak Bay