17 September 2007

More History: Uplands Estates

This month's Grid includes part of the Uplands Estates**, a housing development in Oak Bay which was designed to be "exclusive" in the early years of the 20th Century. In 1912, an ad in the local paper advertised lots for sale in the uplands ranging from $3,000 to $55,000 (source). In today's currency, that translates to a range of about $57,000 to $1.1 million (although that in no way reflects today's property values in the region).


The area, marked by large pillars at each "entrance" is full of grand homes on large lots. Some are worth multiple millions, others just sell for that much.

UVic urban geographer, Dr. Larry McCann has focused much of his research on Oak Bay, and on the Uplands in particular. Among his projects is a database of 7,000 homes in Oak Bay -- when they were built, how much they cost at the time, and so on. The database is now accessible through the Oak Bay Community Archives.

The area used to be farmland, but now both livestock and agriculture* are prohibited by Oak Bay bylaws -- primarily because farmland is taxed at a much lower rate. Because Oak Bay has some of the most restrictive bylaws in the Greater Victoria area, there is a tendency for people to exaggerate. Recently, Oak Bay has been debunking the restriction on laundry lines (thanks to media publicity on green alternatives for clothing care). When I was younger, my Father convinced me that the municipality even moderated the acceptable height for lawns. Of course, he was running a landscaping and maintenance company at the time....


** Looks like I have some Wikipedia editing to do....

* Oak Bay Bylaw 3545, Jan 26/87 prohibits: "The keeping on any lot of any cow, ass, horse, goat, sheep, swine or poultry" and Oak Bay Bylaw 4132, Nov 13/01 prohibits: "the cultivation, production or harvesting of fruit, vegetables, grains, oilseed, trees, shrubs, flowers, plants, seedlings, herbs, seeds, turf, forage or fodder, for sale or exchange for money or other valuable consideration.”

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