The Juan de Fuca Performing Arts Centre Society is looking to build an artistic and economic hub in the gateway to Colwood.
A proposal for Colwood Place, a project that would offer a boutique hotel, office space, commercial space, an arts centre, a 350-seat theatre and community amenities like a public courtyard will be presented during Colwood’s Economic Prosperity Committee meeting on June 8. The proposed site of Colwood Place is the Colwood park and ride site on the corner of Island Highway and Ocean Boulevard.
This proposal has been 15 to 20 years in the making, according to society president Judith Cullington.
“We know it’s ambitious but we feel it’s very achievable and we think this is a real win for Colwood,” Cullington said. “We hope Colwood feels the same way.”
Cullington said the group wants to bring economic development to Colwood and thinks this project could help do that. She also said the community has made it very clear that the park and ride is an important asset and the group is looking to maintain it, replace parking that is taken up by buildings and ensure there is enough parking during construction.
“There is a huge need for this kind of arts and culture centre out there,” Cullington said. “There are schools and the casino but none of it fills the deep-seated community need for performances, a gallery, a teaching space, fine arts etc.”
A package has also been put together to ensure the centre is not reliant on municipal funding to operate. Cullington noted it is deliberately designed as a multi-purpose space. She said the location was identified as ideal due to its proximity to the Galloping Goose Regional Trail, the transit exchange and the highway. She also said being next door to West Shore Parks and Recreation could make it easier for parents who may have kids involved in both sports and arts.
“There are a lot of other things happening in that area that blend very nicely with it,” Cullington said. “It’s a high visibility site in Colwood and we think the City deserves to have a significant and lovely development in that location.”
The development would be a win for all West Shore communities, she said, as it would complement the larger performing arts theatre planned for Langford.
Cullington said the group will not be asking for permission to go ahead with the site at the June 8 meeting, but rather address questions and ask if they can work with staff to develop an agreement that answers questions from the community to make everyone comfortable with the plans.
“What we would love is for council to say ‘we like this concept, please move forward and develop that agreement and a memorandum of understanding,’” Cullington said. “All we can do is put the case forward.”
More information about the project can be found at building4thearts.com/projects/colwood-place/.