The saga of the Royal Bay lands in Colwood has a lengthy history.
The municipality began looking to create an all-encompassing plan for the future of the 600-acre site long before gravel pit operator Lehigh filled up the last barge and sent it on its way back in 2007.
The original Royal Bay area plan, part of Colwood’s official community plan, dates to 1996. Back then, area politicians and staff decided they had to start thinking ahead and prepare for the day, month, year when the pit would come to the end of its useful life for that purpose. The plan was, in essence, a mine reclamation project.
Times have changed a lot in the years since, with perhaps the biggest difference being the West Shore’s strategic position in the housing continuum of Greater Victoria.
People’s values have changed and what they come to expect has as well, which is why this plan needs a total revamp.
While the existing environmental and natural characteristics of the area must be taken into account and preserved, the Royal Bay lands represent a virtual blank slate on which can be created a model neighbourhood that is the envy of urban planners and designers, not to mention prospective residents, around the Pacific Northwest.
In the end, a redevelopment project such as this comes down to vision, shared by more than just our elected representatives.
The colourful drawings made available by the city offer a sense of the possible for this dazzling piece of real estate, and show that bright minds have been thinking long and hard about the potential for Royal Bay.
This is an area that makes up more than 10 per cent of the land mass of Colwood. It’s therefore crucially important that the city and those who would develop the land use this gift wisely and create something special that will stand the test of time.
The realities of the real estate market will dictate the speed of development, but we don’t want to be here in another 20 years still wondering what might become of the site.