Making Waves: Updating the Colwood Official Community Plan

When Colwood Council is faced with decisions about growth and new development, improvements to parks and other public spaces, projects for roads and infrastructure, and more, they look to the Official Community Plan to determine whether it fits with the community's long range vision.

In 2017, Colwood Council will make decisions about updates to the Official Community Plan. Citizen input is the most critical part of creating a clear identity for Colwood that can be implemented through strong plans and policies. 

The City is striving to offer as many ways as possible for citizens to have their say - community talk back events, sounding boards in local eateries, online surveys, steering committee meetings and an all-day Big Ideas Fair. We've also held workshops with various groups, including seniors, students, parents, members of the business and development community, as well as Colwood staff and Council. 

Dive in to the detail

The information below gives an overview of some of the conversations taking place.

Key Directions proposed in the draft Official Community Plan

From October 2016 to May 2017, citizens and partners shared ideas about their vision for Colwood to help shape the plan. Thousands of responses were recorded and incorporated in to the plan through talk back events, sounding boards, online surveys, events, workshops and steering committee meetings.

Vital to the OCP’s success is a widely shared understanding of the City’s vision, goals and direction. We are taking steps to ensure partners and community members continue to be active participants in those directions. Over four weeks in September and early October, we will share details about one new key direction proposed in the draft OCP each week.

Topics centre around the 4T’s talked about during the engagement phase of the process: Topography & Trees, Town Centres, Tidelines and Transportation. The information will be shared in an informal style in order to engage the broadest possible audience:

We encourage you to read, share and discuss these topics with others. Your feedback and input into the draft OCP is always welcome at

Draft Vision and Goal Statements

The City wants to hear what you think of the draft vision and goal statements. They seek to capture the most important themes expressed by participants to date, with an emphasis on Colwood's unique attributes and aspirations. While a small number of goal statements were developed to make them easier to remember and heighten their impact, several other sub-goals or objectives will be developed for the OCP to ensure comprehensiveness. The example policy directions will also be further evolved once preliminary input is received. 

Draft Vision: 
Colwood is a spectacular seaside community set apart by its outstanding natural setting and exceptional quality of life.

Draft Goals: 

  • Colwood's waterfront is a gently-enjoyed, world class destination for residents and visitors alike.
  • People and nature are exceptionally well-connected.
  • Family friendly neighbourhoods provide housing choices.
  • Residents have realistic transportation options.
  • Vibrant streets & public spaces promote community connections.
  • Colwood is carbon neutral, energy positive and water smart.
  • Colwood is prepared to adapt to a changing world.

Read the full Draft Vision and Goals document.

Your feedback on the Draft Vision and Goal Statements

On June 3rd the City hosted an engagement event at the beach to present the Draft Vision and Goal Statements to the public for review and input. Approximately 75 people participated, and enjoyed food and music as part of the Beach Food event at the same time. Read the Engagement Outcomes from the Beach Event: Draft Vision & Goals.

Phase 1 Engagement Summary

On Monday, February 27, 2017 the Phase 1 Engagement Summary was presented to Council. (This is a large pdf that may take time to load.) This information will be used to develop the draft vision, goals and strategic directions for the plan, which will be brought forward for public review and comment in the Spring of 2017.

From the thousands of comments received, the following overarching themes emerged:

  • OUR HEART TODAY IS COLWOOD CORNERS, ROYAL BAY IS A HEART OF THE FUTURE: These centres need to be vibrant ‘people places’. It’s a challenge and an opportunity.

  • OUR SOUL IS THE WATERFRONT. Our waterfront and natural assets are what we cherish and what makes us special. We want to protect, enhance and celebrate these areas.

  • STREETS FOR PEOPLE. Our streets must be places for people. We want safer, more enjoyable walking and cycling experiences.

  • TRANSPORTATION CHOICE. Real transportation choices are needed. We want better transit options, particularly for commuting. Congestion must be addressed.

  • PLACES TO GO AND PLACES TO GATHER. We need more people-centred destinations and gathering spaces, ranging from neighbourhood cafes and pubs, to recreation and cultural spaces, to amenities at the waterfront that allow us to spend the day there.

  • A BIG OPPORTUNITY. Royal Bay is a tremendous opportunity in defining our waterfront and creating a needed village centre. We must get it right.

Sounding Boards in Local Shops

During October and November, Sounding Boards were placed in several locations to raise awareness about the Making Waves project and allow people to provide input 'in the moment'. 256 responses were recorded on boards placed at City Hall, Red Barn Market Latoria Walk, Royal Bay Bakery, Bitez Sandwich Bar and West Shore Parks & Recreation.

  • Transportation - 108 responses:  improve walkability, upgrade cycling infrastructure, traffic calming and dedicated bus lanes. Regional transportation suggestions included light rail transit, ferry service and use of the E&N railway.
  • Town Centres - 68 responses: Colwood Corners development completion, walkable town centres at Colwood Corners and Royal Bay waterfront, smaller centres at Allandale Lands, Kelly Road and Latoria Walk. Need for offices, restaurants, play areas, and seating.
  • Waterfront - 39 responses: improve access and walkability, consider a boardwalk, protect the bird sanctuary, add seating, offer events and activities, add a waterfront restaurant
  • Trees and landscapes - 35 responses:  Focus on preserving trees and green spaces, limiting large rock walls, mapping and protecting streams, lakes and watersheds.
  • Infrastructure and governance - 6 responses: Sewer service, garbage service, amalgamation 

Making Waves Kick Off Event - Oct 27, 2016 Royal Bay Secondary School

Approximately sixty people attended to talk about the future of Colwood. Conversations centred around four key topics: Town Centers; Trees and Topography; Transportation; and Tidelines and Waterfront.

Participants identified where town centres are located currently in Colwood, and where future town centres could be located. They also discussed features and amenities that make Colwood unique, which natural features should be protected, and highlighted the areas where they feel development would be appropriate, as well as the type of developments and destinations these areas should have.

Comments and mapping captured by facilitators at the event were transcribed in detail and will be included in the documentation that will be used to update the Official Community Plan. They were also reviewed to identify high level themes. Below are representative comments of key themes discussed:

1. Town Centres

Several common themes emerged regarding where participants feel town centres should be located in Colwood, and what amenities they would like to see in each.

  • Colwood Corners as a walkable commercial centre with office spaces, shops, services and eateries, as well as potential for tech and niche industry such as craft breweries. Walking and cycling connections throughout the center and into neighbourhoods was identified as a priority, along with outdoor seating, public spaces and features that add interest, such as murals and functional public art. People used words like gathering places, place making, sense of place, and cultural hubs.
  • Royal Bay as a waterfront centre, branding Colwood as Victoria’s West Shore waterfront community, with boutique shops, restaurants, pubs, parks and public spaces, continuous waterfront access, ocean-oriented recreation, and an array of housing opportunities. Youth connections with the high school were discussed. Tourism opportunities were highlighted along the waterfront. Suggestions included a theatre, a pier, water taxis.
  • Allandale Pit - The large private property off Allandale Road between Colwood City Hall and Veteran’s Memorial Parkway is seen as a potential centre for diverse housing, civic destinations, public art, recreation and playgrounds, with a mix commercial/light industrial anchors that complement the surrounding residential areas.
  • Participants envisioned smaller village centres at Sooke and Kelly Roads; Lagoon and Metchosin Roads; and Latoria and Veterans Memorial Parkway.
  • The Royal Roads lands came up frequently for the potential to create enjoyable walking and cycling connections between neighbourhoods and town centres.

2. Trees & Topography

Discussion focused on preserving and enhancing Colwood’s trees, parks, watersheds and forested areas, as well as limiting hillside development that requires prolonged blasting and large retaining walls.There was support for creating a tree bylaw to manage tree removal.

  • Inventory of significant trees, forests, watersheds and preservation areas
  • Developer amenity contributions of parks and green spaces
  • Focus density in town centres 
  • Consider working toward a diversity of trees throughout the City, including edible plants and community gardens to address food security and resilience
  • Raise awareness about local ecology and the benefits of trees and forests
  • Plant trees strategically in new developments and road upgrades to create attractive streetscapes and pedestrian routes

3. Tidelines & Waterfront

Participants expressed that they value their access to the ocean, beach and lagoon. There was interest in promoting enjoyment of beachfront areas while protecting some areas in their natural state – particularly the inner lagoon and bird sanctuary. There was strong support for some urbanization of waterfront areas adjacent to Royal Bay.

  • The waterfront is what makes Colwood unique
  • Boardwalk above the beach at Royal Bay with waterfront pubs, restaurants and parks
  • Protect Esquimalt Lagoon National Migratory Bird Sanctuary
  • Erosion study to determine options for protecting Coburg Peninsula from erosion
  • Diverse views about Ocean Boulevard regarding improving walkability, traffic calming and protecting the roadway versus allowing the peninsula to become more park like

4. Transportation

Conversation focused on two distinct aspects: regional transportation issues, and ideas for improvements within Colwood.

  • For regional traffic, ideas like dedicated bus lanes, light rapid transit, rail service and ferry options were discussed.
  • Within Colwood, ideas focused on walking and cycling connections, increased transit, vehicle speeds and improved infrastructure.

5. Other Themes

  • Diverse and affordable housing options
  • Communication about development in Colwood – informative development notification signs, website information, clear and concise Council minutes, City guides and brochures
  • Prevent ‘holes in the ground’ (stalled developments)
  • Set Colwood apart from other areas as unique, natural, not over developed
  • Work and build partnerships with Royal Roads, Department of National Defense and other stakeholders to enhance preservation of their lands within Colwood.

Wild in the City with Will Marsh - Nov 3, 2016 Royal Bay Secondary School

Approximately 70 participants attended to hear Dr. William Marsh speak about neighbourhood design that enhances quality of life, integrates into the local landscape, makes use of ecosystem services, and preserves natural features like urban forests, rock faces, and watersheds. Dr. Marsh literally wrote the book on Landscape Planning and Environmental Geography. [View the slides Dr. Marsh presented]


Participants were asked to highlight the natural features they value in Colwood, and identify areas that may be appropriate for new development. They pointed out important local ecosystems, and suggested actions that the City could take to preserve natural amenities.

Comments and mapping captured by facilitators at the event were transcribed in detail and will be included in the documentation that will be used to update the Official Community Plan. They were also reviewed to identify high level themes. Below are representative comments of key themes discussed:

1. Natural features to protect

2. Areas appropriate for new development

  • Royal Bay and Royal Bay Waterfront
  • Allandale Pit
  • Colwood Corners – town centre areas
  • Develop flat sites
  • Don’t obstruct views

3. Features that perform natural services

  • Creeks and watersheds: Latoria Creek, Murrays Pond, Colwood Creek, Bee Creek, Gamble Park
  • Forests and trees: shade/cooling, moisture retention, carbon absorption, pollutant removal, compost provision, wild life, recreation, human health and happiness
  • Natural areas: universally accessible, promotes active living, environmental preservation

4. Actions to consider

  • Urban forest strategy, tree preservation areas
  • Map and protect wetlands and streams
  • Development that conforms to the environment, limit blasting, preserve rocky outcrops
  • Restrictive zoning to protect natural areas
  • Share development plans widely for input
  • Use natural infrastructure for stormwater management
  • Create active transportation routes, plan for transportation congestion

Successful Cities & Placemaking with Dave Witty - Nov 17, 2016 Royal Bay Secondary School

Approximately 70 participants attended to hear Dr. Dave Witty speak about how successful cities around the world use placemaking to create community spaces where people enjoy spending time — places that are designed with proportion, scale and vitality — animated and playful places with a strong sense of place that create a community identity and contribute to a high quality of life.

He pointed to research that shows how much places can affect our view of the world. Boring places may make people tired and depressed, whereas places that are thoughtfully designed create a pride of place, a sense that you are part of something that has value. 

He stressed the importance of having rigourous planning principles and design guidelines that make it clear to developers what kind of place they are designing for and contributing to.

View Dr. Witty's slides which include beautiful images of placemaking done right.

Participants dove into energetic table conversations about what kind of community Colwood is today, and what kind of community it should become over time.

Comments and mapping captured by facilitators at the event were transcribed in detail and will be included in the documentation that will be used to update the Official Community Plan. They were also reviewed to identify high level themes. Below are representative comments of key themes discussed:

Colwood Today:

  • The majority of participants agreed that Colwood is currently a 'bedroom community' where many people leave the community to work, come back to sleep, and may enjoy leisure time in the outdoors, but are often driving out of town for shopping and social activities.
  • There are disadvantages to being a bedroom community: roads designed for commuters to move through quickly; limited opportunities to diversify the tax base

Colwood in the Future:

Gathering Places

  • Develop town centres with wide sidewalks to create a vibrant pedestrian realm
  • Vibrant waterfront with natural areas as well as social areas - enhance walkability along waterfront
  • Smaller centres throughout Colwood, within walking distance of most homes
  • Create gathering places and shared community facilities - areas designed to be used for weekend markets, community gardens, community events, band shell, kids skate spots
  • Start with 'pocket' places that could be improved on a small scale then expanded
  • Enhance landscaping and gardens
  • Enhance entrances with grand signs
  • Preserve, celebrate and enhance forests
  • Create a food culture with good local restaurants, neighbourhood pubs, cafes, bakeries
  • Promote culture and preserve heritage through public art, gathering places, community events
  • Create facilities for families - soccer fields, skateparks


  • Strong transportation links with pedestrian and bike lanes
  • Dedicated biking streets and key links
  • Sidewalks usable and well maintained, safe and attractive trails
  • Promote regional transportation solutions
  • Connect communities with transit/trolley

Building & Development

  • Careful location of higher buildings to protect views
  • Sensitive to existing neighbourhoods - transition from single family to townhomes to condos
  • Focus on mixed use spaces
  • Consider parking impacts
  • Create town centres with higher density that adds to culture and livability
  • Create a theme for infill development so that it responds to neighbourhoods
  • Ensure residents can age in place with flexible design and accessible buildings

Business & Employment

  • Better infrastructure will enhance livability to attract and retain businesses including satellite offices for government and larger firms
  • Designate areas for technology park to promote a culture of innovation
  • Designate areas for light industry - breweries, distilleries, manufacturing and assembly of green technology
  • Want to live and work in colwood
  • Promote home based businesses, telecommuting, networking and co working opportunities

Arts, Culture & Heritage

  • Celebrate heritage - from First Nations through settlement and miliary - through events, public art and music.
  • Design events that encourage the mix of generations in Cowlood
  • ​Art could be as simple as telephone pole paintings
  • Encourage food growing to build resilience
  • Define Colwood's unique identity then work to enhance and promote it

Making Waves Survey 

The Making Waves survey was an interactive online feedback tool designed to gather broad community input into Colwood's Official Community Plan. Between November 2016 and January 2017, users were able to drag their priorities to the top of the list to define Colwood's identity, mark special places on a map and select images that best represent their vision for growth in Colwood. 

As of January 31, 2017, there were 1076 visits to the survey. Here are some preliminary findings.

A. Colwood's identity:

B. Places: respondents marked the City Heart Today, City Heart Tomorrow, Special Places and Places Needing Help on a map. Comments about each marker on the map are recorded. 

C. Growth: Respondents choose the image that best represents how they envision growth in Colwood.

  • Top ranked option for Town Centres: Pedestrian focused village centre with shops and homes

  • Top ranked option for Transportation: "Streets that prioritize wallking and cycling environments" recieved an equal rating to "Streets that prioritize transit alongside other modes".

  • Top ranked option for Topography: Hillside development fit into natural environment

  • Top ranked option for Oceanfront: Boardwalks and natural areas

  • Top ranked option for Trees: New development that first protects existing trees

Take a closer look at the data in this Making Waves Survey Summary Report.