Langford planning director Matthew Baldwin has been with the city for 17 years. In that time he’s seen a lot of changes, not least of which was the overbuilt condo market before the recession of 2008-09.
When he looks at the number of residential developments underway and planned in the municipality today, and the related amenities being created to help make the city more “liveable,” he offers up an auto-related example to describe the scenario.
“If 100 per cent is redlining – and you don’t want to do that to your car – I’d say we’re running along at 75 to 80 per cent of max, and that’s a good healthy rate,” he says.
“It sometimes can create a bit of a frenzy when people overbuild. What you end up with is two builders chasing one buyer. I think the pace that we’re at is sustainable.”
If one were to revisit the regional growth strategy mapped out for the Capital Region in the early 2000s, it clearly identified the West Shore as the area best suited – it had the most open land – for the lion’s share of new residential construction.
With the exception of a couple of years after the recession hit hardest, development in Langford, particularly, has continued largely unabated. Today’s list of projects, however, contains more rental housing than condos, while other builders are focusing on townhomes and detached single family dwellings.
A quick glance sees the Happy Valley area continuing to be the engine driving the development bus. The Katie’s Pond project is expanding with 11 more homes and 16 townhouses, while nearby McCormick Meadows on Braeburn Avenue has 30 or more single-home lots expected to hit the market in 2015 for phase 1, with room for an estimated 275 homes at full buildout.
There’s also been rezoning applications along Latoria Road calling for between 80 and 100 homes, Baldwin says, and townhome projects on Vision Way and new subdivision on Luxton Road are looking at adding 120 and 22 homes, respectively. Then there’s Westhills, which has 40 more units underway in its next phase, and Kettle Creek, with 25 to 30 new units on the go and potential to top out at between 200 and 300 units.
Meanwhile View Royal, which rubs shoulders with Langford and three other municipalities, is chugging along like the Little Engine that Could. Eagle Creek Village near Victoria General Hospital, its flagship development, is mainly commercial, but will have 60 rental apartment units in its first phase and 90 to 100 condominiums in phase 2 coming in 2015 or 2016.
Other highlighted projects include phase 2 of Coho Living, overlooking the View Royal Casino, with 44 strata units; The Rise at 1900 Watkiss Way, with 43 condos plus 15 townhouse units; phase 6 and 7 of Thetis Vale on Chilco Road, featuring 19 and 36 single family lots, respectively, and 22 units of multi family housing, and the next cluster of townhomes at 2311 Watkiss Way, backing onto the Galloping Goose Trail.
“What we’re seeing right now is an implementing of our official community plan with the development communities responding to some of the new opportunities that were presented when we reaffirmed the (OCP),” says Lindsay Chase, director of development services.
Add in the potential 45-home expansion of River’s Crossing, off Bear Mountain Parkway in Highlands, and the subdivision of 13 large lots off Gowlland Road neighbouring a conservation area, and there will be plenty of choice for prospective buyers in the next couple of years on the West Shore.
Q: WHO’S GROWING THE MOST OUT HERE?
The most recent Canadian census, with data from 2011, trumpets Calgary, Edmonton, Kelowna and Saskatoon as the metropolitan areas with the most growth between 2006 and 2011, ranging from 10.8% (Kelowna) to 12.6% (Calgary).
But one West Shore municipality, while lower in overall numbers, smashed those growth figures.
Langford led the way with 30.1% growth, to 29,228 residents, while HIghlands was next at 11.4% (to 2,120). They were followed by Colwood at 9.6% (to 16,093), View Royal at 7.0% (to 9,381) and Metchosin at 0.2% (to 4,803).
An aggressive development strategy over the years and today, guided by Mayor Stew Young and his council, has helped the municipality become the fastest growing municipality in B.C. and one of the big gainers in all of Canada.
By the time the 2016 census is released, the numbers will likely show continued high growth in Langford, Colwood, View Royal and Highlands, the four West Shore jurisdictions that are open to large-scale residential housing projects.
GREATER VICTORIA MARKET UPDATE » AS OF OCT. 14/14 COURTESY VICTORIA REAL ESTATE BOARD
» 230 / 512 — NET UNCONDITIONAL SALES/ TOTAL, OCT. 2013
» 393 / 979 — NEW LISTINGS / TOTAL, OCT. 2013
» 4,060 / 4,322 — ACTIVE RESIDENTIAL LISTINGS / TOTAL, OCT. 2013