Public gets their say on school-area development in Colwood

Majority of speakers argue against proposed residential project for former church site

One by one, more than a dozen Colwood residents walked up to the microphone and said their piece.

Approximately 60 people were at Colwood Pentecostal Church last week for a public hearing on a proposed development that would introduce nine single-family homes and two apartment complexes onto properties at 3320 Metchosin Rd. and 3319 Painter Rd., the former site of the Pilgrim United Church The church’s atmosphere was anything but dull.

“The scale of the development is mismatched with the scale of the existing community,” 11-year Colwood resident Ken Gray said. “My primary concerns are traffic and parking, (and) I have concerns about the density, because it is quite a leap from single-family housing.”

His views were well represented at the meeting, with those speaking against the development outnumbering those for by approximately four to one. Some vocal residents chimed in by asking for clarity on Colwood’s future development plans, while others implored council for less density to curb traffic safety. Still others challenged mayor and council to keep the interests of the closest neighbours in mind before supporting developers ho would be “parachuting into the community” for financial gain.

“It’s obvious and inevitable that huge increases in traffic (will result from) construction, and occupation on Royal Bay will affect traffic … I don’t think increasing the density, especially at Painter and Metchosin, is wise given that within the next five years there will be extensive construction at Royal Bay,” Gray said. “Doing that at this time, I would use the word ‘reckless.'”

While many in attendance agreed, there were some who painted a different picture of the potential of the area.

Jeff Anderson said if the neighbourhood accepted the density, it could open the door to future amenities.

“I live on Farview Road, so I am right there and I think we need to start building and investing,” he said. “If we have more people in the neighbourhood then we will get more services like the bus and things like that. Traffic is an issue, but it’s going to be an issue everywhere. I don’t see how some of these things will really impact it.”

With traffic already bad, he added, additional traffic from the proposed development would not be a big factor. The addition of a sidewalk in the area, and the raised pathway through the development, could actually help increase safety for children in the area, said Anderson, whose three children walk to Sangster elementary across Metchosin Road.

“(The developers) put a lot of effort into listening to us – they came around door to door and telephoned – they have been engaged,” he said. “I see it in the planned responses to things we have asked for, like the sidewalks, which Colwood really doesn’t have enough of. The real letdown is there isn’t enough people here tonight who don’t mind the development … it’s easier to not come and support something that is good for the neighbourhood.”

Colwood Coun. Gordie Logan, who has a child attending Dunsmuir middle school nearby on Painter Road, said council and the City have done their due diligence by asking developers for amendments, gaining concessions, including lowering the number of driveways from 10 to seven, moving the pathway through the property away from the parking lot, and raising it to make it safer for pedestrians.

Despite the controversial nature of the dialogue, Logan said he was heartened to see the large turnout and the enthusiasm of residents, calling it a demonstration of love for community.

“I think the residents who are in the neighbourhood have been there for a long time, and are facing the reality there is going to be some change in their neighbourhood. And with change comes some additional pressures, like traffic,” he said. “But with change comes the opportunity to improve the situation. We realize this is a change, but we are also looking at what the community will look like 10, 15, 20 years down the road. We are not looking short term, we are looking long term.”

The proposal will come to council for third reading at its Oct. 14 meeting, which start at 7 p.m.

See related stories:

Neighbours in established neighbourhood leery of new Colwood development

Painter Rd. area residents keep heat on Colwood council