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Overview unveiled for massive Colwood neighbourhood at Royal Bay

The company behind the development of Royal Bay’s waterfront is staying tight lipped on specific plans for the vast piece of cleared land, but has given the public a first look at its general vision.

Dozens of Colwood residents attended an open house last Thursday to take a peek at some initial plans for the 419 acres, which extend back from the waterfront and across Latoria Road.

At the open house, displays spoke of building a complete community with a public waterfront, which will restore the site to a “functional ecology” and offer up to 2,300 homes.

While no one representing developer B.C. Investment Management Corporation or GWL Realty Advisors, the development manager, was permitted to speak to the Gazette about the project, residents had a variety of concerns and reactions.

“I just want to see what they’re planning there and how dense it’s going to be, and if they’re leaving any green space,” said Pat Warlow of Metchosin, who drives through the area daily.

“This is very impressive,” said Joan Hoffman, a Royal Bay area resident of 30 years.

“(I hope it’s) for all ages, so there’s something for everybody, so people feel comfortable. This will be their community, this is where they’ll shop, this is where their children will go to school. They’re making sure they take the time to do it properly. This is first class.”

Royal Bay resident Brian Case wanted to see a little more specific information about the developers plans. His primary concern is trying to pack too many people into the area and ruining any sort of neighbourhood feel.

“What I hope to see is a really well-organized urban development,” he said. “My biggest concern would be high-density. The other developments that are in the area are a higher density than I would like to see.”

B.C. Investment submitted an application for an Official Community Plan amendment to Colwood on Friday, despite the absence of a proposed master plan.

Colwood’s director of planning, Alan Haldenby, said the city has been working with GWL quite closely over the last year and is now also working directly with the project developer.

“Their intent is to get the OCP area plan out of the way first and then pursue, maybe next year, the rezoning aspect of it,” Haldenby said.

He couldn’t get into specifics of the plan because it is still in development.

What he did offer was that the developer’s target for density does not differ much from the current local area plan, established by former owner Lehigh Hanson 15 years ago, before the gravel company sold the land in 2012.

The OCP currently allows for 2,800 units for 7,000 residents, although Haldenby said the type of housing will now likely be more geared toward detached single family dwellings, as opposed to attached residential or apartments.

“From what they’ve told us, they’re not proposing to alter that any great deal,” he said.

Colwood would not be against an increase in density, Haldenby said, even though the developer does not at this time appear to be heading in that direction.

“Certainly locations are likely to change as far as green space connections. They seem to be proposing something a little bit different,” he said. “Until they give us their final master plan, we don’t have much to work with.”

A draft area plan update will be presented at the next open house on Thursday, March 20. A third open house April 3 will reveal the final plan which will be presented to Colwood council for bylaw adoption.

kwells@goldstreamgazette.com

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