Colwood, developer sign development deal for waterfront lands

Colwood’s development deal with Seacliff Properties to build 2,850 homes at Royal Beach — a plan that includes 50 acres of parks and 1.4 kilometres of ocean shoreline — is a “once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for any city,” says Mayor Rob Martin.

“We’re not building piecemeal but with a master plan and a vision of how this community will operate over the next 100 years,” Martin said in an interview Thursday. “We get a future look of how people will move around and can build a community to support that.”

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Seacliff will build the 130-acre seaside village at Royal Beach over several years, with a mixture of single-family homes, townhouses, condos and apartments as well as 860,000 square feet of space for businesses, including waterfront pubs and restaurants, shops and offices that will be a centre point for the West Shore community.

Royal Beach, the area on the south side of Metchosin Road in a former gravel quarry, also includes a potential site for a passenger ferry terminal that would link the West Shore to downtown.

This week, the Capital Regional District passed a motion asking the Transportation Ministry to undertake a feasibility study of a commuter ferry system. A 2019 report by B.C. Ferries determined the ferry was feasible and financially viable.

Martin said a ferry system would ease the traffic burden and boost economic activity at both ends.

With a potential 4,000 residents living at Royal Beach, Martin said improved transportation facilities such as park-and-ride, commuter rail, bike paths and a ferry system would support the movement of people who will live and work at the former quarry.

A 10-acre patch about one kilometre from the beach has been pitched as a park-and-ride facility, and possibly a place for a gondola that would carry people to a ferry terminal.

“I don’t think a ferry will completely fix the problem [of congested commuter routes],” said Martin. “But it can be a part of a long-term solution with transit and possible rail.

“I see it as someone taking their bike to a ferry terminal, taking a 15-minute ride downtown and doing the last mile to work downtown,” he said.

“And that goes both ways. People from downtown can come over to Colwood, have a nice ­dinner and a glass of wine. It creates community both ways.”

A city statement says the development deal with Seacliff sets out requirements for servicing, transportation, parks, building efficiency, density and development phasing, as well as for the waterfront and hillside geotechnical conditions related to sea-level rise, erosion, slope stability and hydrotechnical considerations. Colwood has been co-ordinating transportation studies for years with property developers in the ­fast-growing area, where there are plans for more than 5,000 homes.

The Royal Beach, Royal Bay and Olympic View developments have worked with city staff to create a traffic-impact analysis to form the basis for planning.

The agreement requires the developers to do traffic studies every three years. It also specifies that transit improvements must be in place before subdivisions are created, and that land is reserved for a future transportation exchange, parking or park-and-ride space.

A village plaza will be built at the heart of the waterfront area as part of the first phase of the Royal Beach development. It will provide a public gathering place with space for restaurants, seating, public art and cultural activities, with connections to a waterfront park and beach activities.

The Creekside Trail will provide public access from Metchosin Road to the plaza and shoreline.

“The biggest part of [Royal Beach] is the park system,” said Martin. “It’s 50 acres and the entire four kilometres of waterfront is public realm, for the people to enjoy.”

The massive Royal Bay development by GableCraft Homes, which covers the largest part of the former quarry, is building homes at a rate of about 10 per month, and Martin said builders have sold everything built or planned for the next year.

It contains about 300,000 square feet of commercial space that will include a 10,000-square-foot Quality Foods store as well as a liquor store and bank.

Martin said land has been secured there for a 400-bed long-term seniors care facility.

The province has invested $150 million to build a 200,000-square-foot facility for the Royal B.C. Museum’s archives and collections.

Down Latoria Road on Olympic View, there are plans for 500 homes along the road to the golf course, Martin said.

Another 90 acres in the former gravel pit will contain industrial buildings. An 80,000-square-foot warehouse for Seaspan and Victoria Shipyards is going up there, and Martin said announcements on new tenants are coming soon.

He noted the development by Onni Group at Colwood Corners has plans to open two residential towers this year, while two new affordable housing projects on Goldstream at Wale Road are set for occupancy in early June.

dkloster@timescolonist.com

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