Vibrant public spaces are vital to communities. Hoerr Schaudt Landscape Architects

What makes a great public place

And how to create one in your community

Have you ever been to a public space that made you feel content – comfortable, safe, calm, maybe even inspired? Places like these don’t happen by circumstance. They are designed to attract people and make it comfortable to sit and people watch, admire the natural or architectural features, and see people of many different ages and backgrounds enjoying themselves as much as you.

People had no trouble describing places like this when they were asked to envision town centres as part of Colwood’s Making Waves Official Community Plan update.

The more pressing question for Colwood was where is the town centre?

Almost every person who took the Making Waves survey tagged two specific locations in Colwood as city centres: Colwood Corners and Royal Bay. Smaller centres along Sooke Road were also marked consistently. Based on this, Colwood has drafted a new Official Community Plan that proposes two town centres for Colwood, each with incredible opportunities to create vibrant ‘people places’.

Colwood Corners will return to its roots as the commercial hub of the community, where it is ideally positioned to take advantage of regional transportation links. Work has resumed at Colwood Corners with plans for new apartments, restaurants, shops and services, complete with public spaces featuring outdoor seating, landscaping, lighting and play areas.

In Royal Bay a seaside village will rise up out of what had been a massive gravel operation on the waterfront. The village will leverage Royal Bay’s breathtaking views and ocean access to realize its outstanding potential for exceptional seaside restaurants, shops, homes and inspiring open spaces that will make it a world-class destination.

How can you help create great places?

1. Be part of creating your community plan and understand the changes it will bring about. Great town centres with high quality streets and public places do not happen if there are no people nearby to visit them. For Colwood, this means working toward more dense development in those town centre areas people marked on the map – Colwood Corners, along Sooke Road and at Royal Bay. The draft Official Community Plan proposes continued growth in these areas while retaining the character of Colwood’s existing family-friendly neighbourhoods.

2. Share your unique perspective of the community – the history of Colwood, what is meaningful to people and what challenges people face. Great places tell a story that resonates with people, and in turn strengthens the identity of the community. People take pride in these places and cherish them as their own. The community comes alive in these places, bonds among neighbours are strengthened, and a sense of belonging is fostered. In the end, that is what every community plan hopes to achieve.

Watch for opportunities to review and provide input into Colwood’s draft Official Community Plan when it is presented for feedback later this fall.

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