Halfway through their four-year term, it seems Colwood Mayor Rob Martin and city council couldn’t be in a better position, especially in a pandemic.
In September, they announced a new branch location of Royal BC Museum, the purchase of a new elementary school in Royal Bay and confirmation of Seaspan Shipyards dropping an 81,500 square foot office anchor at the Allandale District.
Plus, Netflix and Warner Bros have begun filming their 10-part series Maid, in popular Colwood locations.
But the work isn’t done.
“I lose sleep over our traffic and transportation plans,” said Martin. “There’s no easy fix to this problem. We will end up gridlocked if we don’t find the best way to address this and I’ve heard pushback from the community about our growth.”
More than 2,000 residential units are expected in the Royal Beach area, but Coun. Dean Jantzen says tensions should ease as the plan is formed around a tentative 20-year buildout cycle.
Coun. Stewart Parkinson agrees it’s important to get the rezoning at Royal Beach “done right.”
“There have been … significant concerns over parking and traffic,” Parkinson said.
“I believe council has been realistic in the approach although future trends in vehicle ownership, transit usage and cycling are difficult to predict.”
As Martin glances over a panoramic view of Royal Beach and Royal Bay lands, he states his firm conviction that Colwood is “no longer the sleepy town it used to be.”
He believes Colwood will be a key player for Greater Victoria’s road to economic recovery post-pandemic.
The new museum branch is expected to provide 650 construction jobs and 300 permanent jobs. The new school affords 200 construction gigs and 50 permanent while another 100 are expected for the Seaspan portion of the Allandale project.
As the chair of Colwood’s transportation committee, Coun. Dean Jantzen believes there hasn’t been a focus on walkablity and cycling within the city.
He sees Sooke Road as inconsistent from one block to the next, with pieces of sidewalk randomly interspersed.
He points to the intersection of Ryder Hesjadel Way and Latoria Road as the ideal for main artery roads, with sidewalks on both sides, bike lanes and accessible crosswalks.
Coun. Gordie Logan added that he wants to see an equal investment in main arteries, such as Metchosin Road, Latoria Road, Veterans Memorial Parkway and Sooke Road.
He pointed out there is no sidewalk along a 1.4-kilometre stretch of Metchosin Road, between Painter Road and Sooke Road.
“If we want to get people out of their cars, we have to make it more attractive to them,” said Logan.
Meanwhile, Coun. Doug Kobayashi sees the efforts to increase affordable homes in the city as a big plus for Colwood.
A giant hole that sat on Wale Road for more than nine years has since been filled in with an 124-unit building set to open by early 2021.
In addition, Colwood Corners will see a 15-storey affordable rental tower built to replace the 40-year-old Colwood Lodge seniors complex along Belmont Road.
Looking to the future, the mayor says he places full support behind a passenger ferry between Colwood’s waterfront and downtown Victoria.
Martin wants a full feasibility study done, but that would take an estimated $1 million to accomplish, a price tag he won’t invest unless the province shows greater support or considers funding a portion of the study.
“Rob has brought an unparalleled level of excitement and enthusiasm to the job,” said Logan. “I am absolutely floored because I’ve never seen this much excitement filtered down to staff in the 21 years I’ve been on council.”
– Black Press Media reached out to all city councillors for comment.