Topography and trees, a second town centre, protection of shoreline and increased transportation are the focus of the City of Colwood’s Official Community Plan (OCP).
One of those common themes that emerged from public consultation with thousands of residents was where the city’s town centre should be located – the answer came as a surprise to Coun. Jason Nault.
“I always thought around Colwood Corners as our downtown and a lot of people are pushing for Royal Bay to be our downtown,” said Nault, chair of the OCP steering committee. “Maybe we’ll have two downtowns.”
Another theme that came out of consultations was preservation and access to the ocean, beach and lagoon.
There was a lot of support from residents about protecting Esquimalt Lagoon as a national migratory bird sanctuary, and the potential to construct a boardwalk above the beach at Royal Bay with waterfront pubs, restaurants and parks.
When it comes to transportation, Nault said there was a desire to focus less on the movement of cars, with more emphasis on regional transportation issues such as a dedicated bus lane, light rapid transit, and rail service. Residents also want the community to be more walkable and have more cycling connections.
“We want to make every community hub have walkable things like grocery stores, so you don’t have to drive to a big box store and you’re only a five minute walk to a grocery store,” Nault said. “That will be a long-term vision. I can’t see it changing overnight.”
The plan also touches on future developments and designing structures to fit into the natural landscapes rather than altering natural features to make the roads and buildings fit, as well as a new policy for the protection of City-owned trees.
The plan, which was last updated five years ago, will guide the vision for the city for the next 18 years. With Colwood poised for significant growth over the next several years (Nault expects the current population of 17,000 to grow by two per cent annually), the plan will act as a guide when council is faced with decisions regarding new developments, roads projects, or park improvements.
Planning began last year, with consultation stretching from October 2016 to May of this year, including talk back events, sounding boards, online surveys, events, workshops and steering committee meetings.
The first draft plan will go to a committee meeting in October for discussion and the public is encouraged to attend.
Nault hopes the plan will be finalized early next year. For more information on the plan, visit colwood.ca.