Aerial shot of Esquimalt Lagoon and Ocean Boulevard, which separates it from the Salish Sea. The City of Colwood is in the beginning stages of creating a plan to improve and enhance the public realm along the waterfront between the boulevard bridge and Royal Beach. (Black Press Media file photo)

Aerial shot of Esquimalt Lagoon and Ocean Boulevard, which separates it from the Salish Sea. The City of Colwood is in the beginning stages of creating a plan to improve and enhance the public realm along the waterfront between the boulevard bridge and Royal Beach. (Black Press Media file photo)

Ambitious plans for Colwood waterfront improvements underway

Design options expected to be available for public input by this summer

The people have spoken and action is underway on plans to enhance the public realm of 4.4 kilometres of waterfront between Royal Beach and the Ocean Boulevard bridge.

With such improvements as a contiguous multi-use pathway, ecological enhancements, recreational amenities and other features among the potential changes for the corridor, the City of Colwood is in the design planning stage.

The results of a public survey undertaken last spring, entitled How We Use and Enjoy Ocean Boulevard and undertaken when the road was closed to through traffic in response to the pandemic, prompted council to ask city staff to move as quickly as possible on the project, says Colwood director of community planning Iain Bourhill.

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“The survey showed the values people are putting on the space, what their priorities are for using it and recreating on it,” he said.

Area being considered for future improvements along the Colwood waterfront. (Courtesy City of Colwood)

Less than half of the nearly 4,000 respondents were Colwood residents, a point that led Bourhill to call the area “a magnet for people around the region … it really is a regional asset.”

At least two priorities emerged in the online survey: respect for the natural environment and recreational qualities of the Esquimalt Lagoon sanctuary and ocean beach, and the importance of the roadway for access by commuters and people unable to walk distances.

“We expect the conceptual design will include options that will provide for the maintenance of vehicular access, whether that involves a change to the access,” Bourhill said.

Those priorities, combined with the need to conserve sensitive ecological areas and archaeological sites against flooding and long-term sea level rise, will be taken into account by consultants and staff, he added.

The city has enlisted the services of local landscape architecture consulting firm Murdoch de Greeff for the project. The award-winning company has been recognized for its work on such high-profile projects as the gardens at the Inn at Laurel Point and The Atrium building in downtown Victoria, as well as environmental remediation and integrated watershed management projects.

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Bourhill, who grew up in Metchosin and has lived in Colwood for some time, said he has spent a lot of time over the years at this portion of the waterfront.

“Enhancing the space and having a role in the improvement of the waterfront is exciting for me,” he said. “Everyone is anticipating getting to the design work now that we’ve heard from the community.”

The future development of the Seaside Village neighbourhood above Royal Beach, and the ongoing growth of the Royal Bay subdivision on the opposite side of Metchosin Road factor into plans to create better access for all types of active transportation along the public waterfront, Bourhill said.

The city expects to unveil the design options for public comment this summer and forward staff recommendations to council for discussion and approval later in the year. The goal is to see on-site work start on the chosen option in 2022, Bourhill said.

A communication plan to provide progress reports for the public is also being developed, as is a dedicated web page. Watch colwood.ca for further details.


 

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