Colwood residents are voicing concern over an application to increase housing density in the up-and-coming Royal Beach development.
During the public participation portion of Colwood’s council meeting on March 9, residents took up almost the entire 20 minutes allotted to them to speak about Seacliff Properties’ application to amend Colwood’s Official Community Plan to allow for 2,850 units on the Royal Beach property.
At a previous council meeting in February, a motion to receive the recommendation to amend the City’s land use bylaw and Official Community Plan was carried by council. It would allow up to 2,850 residential dwelling units on the entire site. It would also limit the amount of non-residential floor space to 80,674 square metres with a minimum number to be decided by council based on options provided by staff before the first reading of the bylaw.
Colwood resident and member of the Royal Bay Homeowners Association, John English, said he was worried about the application to build more dwellings on the Colwood seashore. He noted that the Royal Bay and Royal Beach area are intended to be a regional destination for shopping, dining and recreation, making it another commercial area in addition to Colwood Corners.
“The changes that Seacliffe has requested … will fill up the lands between Metchosin (Road) and the seashore with residential development,” English said. “The Colwood Royal Bay seashore lands will then only be a destination for the people that live there.”
Other residents voiced similar concerns, stating the need to support Colwood’s Official Community Plan and add commercial space to the city.
“As we all know the City of Colwood is dearly short in commercial tax revenue,” English said.
Residents said they were disappointed to see the number of dwellings in the area will be increased. They said they weren’t against development, but would like to see a vision to move forward.
“Building a bunch of homes doesn’t build community,” one resident said. “We need to have different services and opportunities to meet.”
At the Feb. 24 council meeting, Coun. Cynthia Day – the only councillor to oppose the recommendation – also noted the importance of commercial development, saying Colwood can’t be a “living room community” without it.
Coun. Stewart Parkinson said commercial space in Royal Beach depends on economics as well.
“If it’s not economic, it’s not going to happen,” he said.
Royal Beach takes up 1.4 kilometres of shoreline and is nestled into the larger Royal Bay community, which is separately owned by Gablecraft Homes. Seacliff Properties purchased Royal Beach in 2017, the property is a total 134 acres in size.
The City of Colwood said that together, the Royal Beach Landings area and the Royal Bay Commons area will be one of two primary centres in Colwood and a “major focus of future residential and commercial growth.”
The Seaside Village area will include residential, commercial and institutional uses in multi-unit low-rise buildings, stacked townhouses and mid-rise buildings up to 12 storeys, Colwood said.
“Colwood’s Committee of the Whole has advanced the application to council,” said Sandra Russell, communications manager for the City of Colwood. “Additional staff reports will be considered by council prior to a public hearing.”
The City is also coordinating transportation planning between multiple developments to address traffic considerations as the community grows.