The former Aquattro development

The former Aquattro development

Colwood addresses concerns on Ocean Grove

Official community plan amendment required to move massive development forward

Esquimalt Lagoon may finally get its new neighbour.

After years in limbo, the Ocean Grove development, which began life off Heatherbell Road as Aquattro under previous owners, is finally seeing major progress. On Monday, Colwood council gave third reading to an amendment of the Official Community Plan and a rezoning application for the proposed 795-unit development.

“Folks would rather see completion of the project because it has been sitting in a state of flux and not meeting demands set on it,” said Mayor Carol Hamilton.

“With a new developer you come with a new feel and flavour … There will be some concerns, but it completes an area of Colwood and allows for a little more diversity.”

The current proposal by Seacliff Properties Ltd. requires changes to the neighbourhood plan. It calls for increases in the overall number of units, the addition of neighbourhood-scaled commercial and a single-family home component. The majority of the units will be townhouses and condominiums.

Following a busy public hearing March 30 at which numerous Colwood citizens expressed their concerns, the developers have also agreed to amend their project to protect safety and add amenities.

A staff report was presented Monday which identified and summarized those concerns. After discussion about what had been heard from the public, council discussed solutions put forward in the report and agreed to move things along.

Concerns over public safety along Heatherbell Road on the west side of the property were met with a proposed temporary sidewalk to be built prior to any construction taking place.

Questions from the public about the triggering of off-site community improvements were met when developers agreed the three four-storey buildings and six townhomes making up the 88 existing units built under the Aquattro banner would be included in the units needed to trigger the first tier of community amenities.

Among the off-site amenities that would kick in at various stages of development are upgrades to sidewalks and other pedestrian safety improvements, installation of curb and gutter on roads surrounding the site, and a provision to extend sewer lines to Seafield Road.

On-site amenities include the dedication of 13 acres for parkland, as well as a 4.5-acre riparian area and a trail network that could one day link into trails at Royal Roads and Coburg Peninsula Park.

“It is a transition time and the differences and the contrasts are fairly impressive. But once we get through it and settle down into a community it will look like it should,” Hamilton said.

“I think we have got to give them a chance to do what they say, they will do and get it done.”

A final step in the process is signing a development agreement that would be registered on title, binding the developers to off-site improvements. Once that happens council would give its opinion at a final reading.

“These are big developments and yes, there is quite a rate of development (in Colwood),” Hamilton said.

“But you look at the creation of what is happening and it is really special. In time what was grey or broom filled will have blossomed into a subdivision … It’s going to be pretty special over time.”