The past couple of weeks have seen at least two significant development projects on the West Shore brought into the spotlight.
In meetings on both proposals – a single-family home/apartment project in Colwood at the corner of Metchosin and Painter roads, and a project in Langford featuring small-lot homes and most likely townhomes – neighbouring residents came out in large numbers.
It’s public process in action. The hope is that residents feel empowered by their ability to let the decision-makers and their advisors – as well as the people who would build the projects – know exactly how residents feel about developments that will impact their neighbourhoods.
Some residents end up frustrated if their suggestions or concerns seem to fall upon deaf ears at the council level when it comes to how a project is permitted to take shape. But what seems like a slam-dunk decision on a development usually follows weeks and months of discussions by local politicians as they weigh the options and analyze what’s best for the community as a whole.
From the public’s perspective, it can be tough to envision what a development will look like when one is only looking at line drawings or computer-generated photos. Landscaping takes time to develop, as does the personality of a place, until new people start interacting with their neighbours.
But some people simply dislike change and will try to argue that a different use for a piece of land, even when it’s someone else’s property, does nothing for the greater good.
Change, especially in the fast-growing West Shore, is inevitable. Most residents recognize that, and many do their best to help mould new developments into something they can be proud to live near.
For those who either fear change or don’t bother to voice their opinion, we remind them that the development cost charges that developers pay to municipalities go toward creating infrastructure like better roads, sidewalks and lighting, and the amenities that make the West Shore a great place to live, work and play. And that means property taxes go up less than they otherwise may need to in order to maintain our infrastructure.
If that’s not enough motivation to accept some level of change, the West Shore has a wonderful option, a place where large-scale development is frowned upon.
It’s called Metchosin, and we’re glad residents have a choice in terms of where they live and the lifestyle they seek.