Up to 2,100 homes, range of services pitched for Royal Bay development

A proposal for up to 2,100 homes in two new neighbourhoods on a former gravel pit at Royal Bay goes to a public hearing in Colwood on Monday.

Developer GableCraft Homes of Vancouver is planning for a shopping village, a variety of home types and space for civic buildings and parks on a 158-acre site in an area called Latoria South.

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GableCraft has already built about 300 single-family houses and townhomes on its nearby Latoria North site and is planning for another 300, GableCraft president Lance Floer said Wednesday. Every year, about 100 homes are constructed in Latoria North.

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. The Royal Bay Secondary School opened in 2015 on the west side of Metchosin Road and many homes have already been constructed nearby.

On the east or waterfront side of Metchosin Road, the former Producers Pit gravel operation was purchased in 2012 by B.C. Investment Management Corp., which sold it to GableCraft and another developer, Seacliff Properties, in 2017.

All of the waterfront portion of the property is owned by Seacliff, which hopes to obtain a rezoning in future for commercial and residential development on its 134 acres, which it is calling Royal Beach.

GableCraft has most of the upland portion of the property, where it’s seeking a rezoning to allow up to 2,100 homes, as well as alterations to Colwood’s Royal Bay plan, which is within the municipality’s official community plan. Approval would include design guidelines specific to Latoria South, which would govern things like building heights and features.

Council will also decide on whether to approve a site-specific comprehensive development zone for these lands, outlining allowed uses.

Before the vote, council will hear from citizens in the hearing via an online link.

Some nearby residents have written to city hall to express concern about the plans.

The Royal Bay/Colwood Homeowners Association is unhappy with what it described as a “wall” of attached housing replacing earlier plans for single-family housing. They fear taller buildings will result in a noisier environment.

They are also concerned about a loss of privacy, views and view corridors.

The association says it is not satisfied with a traffic report that was carried out, saying its scope was not broad enough and that it is likely to worsen, not alleviate, traffic problems in the area.

GableCraft said its proposal follows extensive community consultation, with three open houses staged in the past year and a half attended by hundreds of people.

The area dubbed Quarry would include 800 ground-oriented homes, either single-family or townhomes, Floer said. It would include seven acres for a 500-student elementary school, and a half-acre for a future satellite fire hall, plus parks.

The neighbourhood called Commons, a little over 40 acres, is planned as the commercial and mixed-use core of Royal Bay, Floer said. It would become another urban centre for the municipality, beyond Colwood Corners.

“For us, the centrepiece of that will be an almost 80,000-square-foot retail village that has the potential to expand over time as the community builds out,” he said. A 35,000-square-foot grocery store, coffee shops, cold beer and wine stores and a pharmacy are among uses envisioned.

The retail village would be located on the southeast corner of the intersection of Ryder Hesjedal Way and Latoria.

Other uses included in the rezoning application include seniors care, cultural and institutional uses, and a potential civic precinct if that’s something the municipality wants, he said.

The Commons would include construction of up to 1,300 homes, largely apartment-style condominiums, he said. There could be some purpose-built rental, as well.

“Obviously there will multiple parties who will eventually be constructing buildings,” Floer said.

“Our group will build the retail village and the first mixed-use residential as well.”

Most buildings would be six storeys at their tallest, with some four-storey buildings to the west of Ryder Hesjedal Way.

GableCraft’s proposal includes close to 17 acres devoted to parkland — neighbourhood parks, natural areas and trails — as well as a transition area between the two neighbourhoods.

A key feature of the entire Royal Bay development is creating connectivity for residents, whether via a linked trail network or cycling and driving links, he said. A transit exchange is in the plans.

The aim is to develop housing for middle-income buyers who would use the retail centre for their everyday needs, Floer said.

By the time the entire north and south sites are built out, the total population on GableCraft land could top 6,000.

If the rezoning application is approved, along with a subsequent development permit, construction of the retail village could start in early 2021, he said.

The residential component of the development will be market-driven, Floer said, and would likely start in the next couple of years.

For more information, go to colwood.civicweb.net/document/161841.

cjwilson@timescolonist.com

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