Royal Bay Rezoning Approved

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Colwood has approved a comprehensive plan for the Latoria South portion of Royal Bay where up to 2,100 new homes and a commercial centre are mapped out at the former gravel pit.

The mixed-use project will help transform the municipality, says Mayor Rob Martin, who expects neighbouring developer Seacliff Properties to seek rezoning this fall.

Approval for Latoria South “allows us to move forward from a bedroom community to a more dynamic economy,” Martin said.

Colwood’s commercial base is about to grow now that developer Gablecraft Homes intends to build an 80,000-square-foot retail village with a grocery store, other shops and services.

“We are really trying to build a liveable community and this really feeds into this,” Martin said.

New commercial development such as this will help ease the tax burden on homeowners, he said.

Gablecraft’s mixed-use project went to public hearing this week and council voted Wednesday in favour of rezoning to allow the project to proceed. Martin expects that the fourth and final reading of the bylaws will come up at council’s August meeting.

Royal Bay is the name given to the former site of a gravel pit on either side of Metchosin Road, south of Royal Roads University and north of Albert Head.

Gablecraft has already built about 300 single-family houses and townhomes on its Latoria North property, which is on the water side of the Metchosin Road, along with its Latoria South lands.

It is building out Latoria South with two neighbourhoods, the Commons and the Quarry. A range of housing types will go up with the market dictating the pace of construction. Plans include parks, trails, an elementary school, a satellite fire hall and a transit exchange. Other possibilities include seniors care and cultural uses. The tallest buildings would be six storeys.

Martin anticipates that buildings, such as the supermarket, will feature an interior design suited to a post-virus world.

He figures that the Seacliff lands, which include the waterfront at Royal Bay, will present a mixed-use plan similar in scope, creating a major hub of homes and commercial uses.

Colwood’s population is slightly more than 19,000. Projections say it could reach 35,000 in the next 25 years, Martin said.

Two organizations represent residents, the Royal Bay Community Association and the Royal Bay/Colwood Homeowners Association. The homeowners group has expressed concerns about losing privacy and views and contending with a noisier environment because of Gablecraft’s multi-storey building plans. They fear that traffic will be heavier and that issue needs to be looked at more closely.

The community association is keen to see the new amenities, particularly the commercial area and a supermarket, go ahead. That group praises the transportation plan, which has a transit exchange, cycling paths, sidewalks, and parks and trails.

A mix of opinions was expressed at the public hearing. One resident called Gablecraft’s plan a “thoughtful balanced development” with homes, waterfront and amenities such as coffee shops, and is looking forward to the project being constructed.

Another speaker said that while the project is a tremendous opportunity for Colwood, he fears that too many homes are going up on the space available. He worried that would lead to smaller lots and reduced street parking.

He recommended that the height of the buildings be restricted to four storeys, instead of six.