In the wake of a 2013 article in the Canadian Business Journal magazine that rated the City of Colwood one of the country’s top 100 best neighbourhoods to live in, the municipality continues to see growth and movement in residential housing development.
One of the largest current projects in terms of potential, Royal Bay on the former Lehigh gravel pit, is expected to start building sometime in late summer or early fall. City of Colwood planning director Ian Bourhill says that is probably the biggest single change since the CBJ article came out.
“I think they’re hoping to have show homes up by the fall,” he says.
The servicing for the site is nearly completed, he says, meaning construction will soon be able to start on the first neighbourhood to be built adjacent to the new Royal Bay secondary, which opens this fall.
The Top 100 story also referred to the future impact of the Capital City Centre project, with its 27-storey Skye Tower central to the residential component of the development.
While that project has ceased to exist in the form it was in at the time, the property’s new owners, The Onni Group out of Vancouver, are expected to bring forward their plans for the site sometime this year, according to Bourhill, who added the residential component of that development will likely remain “significant.”
Another project that went through a change in ownership is Ocean Grove, formerly Aquattro, off Esquimalt Lagoon. Changes to the overall development, which aims to put hundreds more living spaces on the lands below Heatherbell Road, are in the process of being considered by city council.
Other smaller, yet significantly- sized projects are also on the go, including the Pacific View condominium project at 300 Belmont Rd., which includes two buildings of four storeys each.
Colwood Mayor Carol Hamilton says she’s seeing interest in properties across the West Shore and as far out as Sooke, as home buyers continue to look for affordable houses and other residential properties.
“I think we’re affordable in the scheme of things when you hold it up to the (regional) market,” she says. “People can get bang for their buck out here.”
Other single family home projects, some combined with townhome or condo elements, are in the works or expected to come on stream soon in the Wishart Road area, Metchosin and Painter roads, and others.
On the subject of liveability, Hamilton said city council takes into account the effect of major developments on nearby areas and how the landscape and viewscapes can change.
She gave as an example the Colwood Creek Estates development near Jacklin and Sooke roads as one where something that once looked like it was “nuked out” – the development was left vacant for many years until economic conditions improved and a project went forward on the land.
“Gradually houses were built and occupied and the landscaping went in and started to grow. We took some of the bush, the scrubby stuff, and turned it into a park and walkways.”
When it comes to development and how certain projects fit in with the surrounding area, it’s about keeping a thoughtful process to it, but allowing time to take its effect on a project.
“it’s the transition part that’s the toughest,” she says. “Some people just see the intensity of the change and don’t see what’s to come.”
Hamilton says the city has acknowledged that as it looks to the future.
“It’s important that we keep diversity and not create cookie-cutter designs.”
GREATER VICTORIA MARKET UPDATE » MONTH TO DATE, MAY 11/15 COURTESY VICTORIA REAL ESTATE BOARD
» 270 / 714 — NET UNCONDITIONAL SALES / TOTAL, MAY 2014
» 521 / 1,509 — NEW LISTINGS / TOTAL, MAY 2014
» 3,984 / 4,672 — ACTIVE RESIDENTIAL LISTINGS / TOTAL, MAY 2014