Colwood boom also comes with growing pains as development expands

CHEK

Stories on development booms in the West Shore often focus on Langford, but Colwood is picking up the pace to catch up with its neighbour.

While this can be good news, it can also come with growing pains.

Bradley Kiss, owner of Royal Bay Bakery, says while the bakery has been a staple of the community for half a century, it’s bursting at the seams.

“We’re growing out of this place. Actually, we’re pretty crammed for space a lot of the time,” Kiss told CHEK News.

It’s a microcosm of Colwood which is projected to grow by 13 per cent by 2026.

In 2022, Colwood only built a total of 242 housing units, according to the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation, but a development that just recently broke ground will see significant increases in that number.

Mayor Doug Kobayashi said the recent announcement of the $1.2-billion Beachlands development that will include 2,800 homes is just the tip of the potential.

Once it’s finished, along with Royal Bay across the road, will double Colwood’s population.

There are more plans to re-design undeveloped areas, and increase housing.

“There is going to be a major transit exchange there. That is the plan for the future. That also alleviates some of the issues, but not everything. By no means,” Kobayashi said.

Vancouver Island is also bucking provincial trends. According to Statistics Canada, B.C. saw a 32 per cent decrease in building permits between December 2022 and 2023. However, the Victoria and Nanaimo metropolitan areas went in the opposite direction, with Nanaimo seeing a 139 per cent increase in building permits and Victoria seeing a 45 per cent increase.

Eric Doherty is with Greater Victoria Acting Together, a transportation advocacy group, and says there are transportation issues in the growing community.

“Basically this region is still being built as an automobile dominated region with sprawl,” Doherty said.

“A lot of talk about cycling infrastructure, but most of the money is going into highway expansion, and most of the development is being done without a real emphasis on public transit or cycling.”

But the mayor is confident his city can take it.

There are plans to redevelop the downtown core vertically.

The 20-acres of the Allandale District is getting ready for commercial development.

“It’s pretty exciting times for us right now,” Kobayashi said. “I think this is going to be a real source of pride for Colwood. I think we found that right balance right now, between nature and innovation.”

Back at the bakery, Kiss says it’s exciting as he contemplates the future.

“It’s been a real pleasure being part of this community,” Kiss said. “Everybody here is very wonderful. It’s been a real treat.”

Mary GriffinMary Griffin

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