A vision for Turkey Head

Public input sought on vision for waterfront public land

The Community Association of Oak Bay (CAOB) and the Greater Victoria Placemaking Network (GVPN) are looking to create a vision for an underutilized public space that sits on some of the best real estate on Oak Bay’s coastline.

Turkey Head, the land that juts out from Beach Drive where the Oak Bay Marina and parking lot sit, is owned by the municipality of Oak Bay. Many don’t realize that it is public land.

The CAOB is looking to raise awareness about this community amenity and to start a conversation about its future potential. In partnership with the GVPN, they initiated a series of Community Conversations regarding Oak Bay’s special shoreline environment, including Turkey Head.

The Turkey Head engagement project enabled the public to learn more about the site and to brainstorm ideas for the future, while also acknowledging the importance of existing uses. The project ran through the summer with a series of public input sessions at Oak Bay Night Market events in July, August and September.

Over 100 citizens providing their thoughts through the public sessions.

“We have not advocated for any particular proposals for the site, but have been excited by some of the visions that have emerged,” wrote Nichols in a letter to municipal staff.

Just prior to Christmas, Kris Nichols from CAOB and Andrew Appleton from GVPN presented Oak Bay committee of the whole with information on the project.

Nichols told the committee that the 100 citizens who engaged with the project provided almost unanimous support for additional activation at Turkey Head, with the following recurring ideas: a pier; gathering spaces; performance space; special events with food and music; markets, and signage recognizing the environmental, historical, and Indigenous importance of the area.

Currently, the majority of the Turkey Head land is leased to the Oak Bay Marine Group, and any changes to the use of the land – initiated by either the Marine Group or council – has to be done through a change to the lease agreement.

The current lease with Oak Bay Marine Group is coming due in five years in 2022.

Coun. Kevin Murdoch noted in the committee meeting that with the lease coming due in five years, council should start thinking about a 30 year vision for the property. Whether negotiating a new lease with Oak Bay Marine group or going in a different direction, the unique benefits and challenges of the property will require a few years for the consultation needed to be able to effectively move forward with any major change to the site.


 

keri.coles@oakbaynews.com

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