Vancouver’s Reliance Properties has inked a 50-50 joint-venture agreement with Seacliff Properties for the $1.2 billion build out of a massive mixed-use master planned waterfront development in Colwood, B.C., a West Shore community a 15-minute drive from Victoria.
“We are thrilled to partner with Seacliff to develop Royal Beach, which will be our first project on Vancouver Island that is outside of Downtown Victoria,” said Jon Stovell, president and CEO of Reliance Properties, which is developing in both Victoria and Vancouver, including the Burrard Place tower project, a joint venture with the Jim Pattison Group.
“This is our company’s first joint venture,” said Georgia Desjardins, director of development of Seacliff Properties during a press conference at the site on January 24. “Royal Beach presents a unique opportunity to develop the last significant waterfront lands in Colwood, creating a new local, regional, and national destination.”
Colwood’s development deal with Seacliff Properties to build 2,850 homes at Royal Beach — a plan that includes 50 acres of parks and 1.4 kilometres of ocean shoreline — is a “once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for any city,” said Colwood Mayor Rob Martin.
“We’re not building piecemeal but with a master plan and a vision of how this community will operate over the next 100 years,” Martin said in an earlier interview with the Times Colonist.
For more than 100 years, the site was a rock and gravel mine, one of the region’s largest employers. It ceased operations in 2008. Seacliff bought the site in 2017, and after years of planning and public consultation, the City of Colwood adopted a new Sub-Area Plan and zoning bylaw for Royal Beach last year.
“Other seaside communities in B.C., like Coal Harbour and Olympic Village, were industrial sites that became coveted, world-class communities in which to live, work, play and visit,” said Desjardins. “Royal Beach will be Vancouver Island’s most distinct waterfront community.”
The first phase of construction will start this spring with the construction of a new intersection at the site’s entrance at Metchosin and Latoria roads.
A village plaza will be built at the heart of the waterfront area as part of the first phase. It will provide space for restaurants, seating, public art and cultural activities, with connections to a waterfront park and beach activities.
The Creekside Trail will provide public access from Metchosin Road to the plaza and shoreline.
“The biggest part of [Royal Beach] is the park system,” said Martin. “It’s 50 acres and the entire waterfront is public realm, for the people to enjoy.”
Royal Beach is adjacent to ongoing Royal Bay development by GableCraft Homes, which covers the largest part of the former quarry. GableCraft is building and selling homes at a rate of about 10 per month.
Royal Bay contains approximately 300,000 square feet of commercial space that will include a 10,000-square-foot Quality Foods store as well as a liquor store and bank.
The province has invested $150 million to build a 200,000-square-foot facility for the Royal B.C. Museum’s archives and collections at the site.
Another 90 acres in the former gravel pit will contain industrial buildings. An 80,000-square-foot warehouse for Seaspan and Victoria Shipyards is going up there, and Martin said announcements on new tenants are expected.
The Capital Regional District’s growth strategy identifies Colwood as a centre for urban growth and densification. Its population is currently projected to increase by approximately 30 per cent by 2038 as one of the fastest-growing regions on Vancouver Island.