Colwood is a rapidly growing seaside community with incredible potential for commercial success.

Residents have expressed a clear desire for more restaurants and retail. Colwood’s citizen survey found that 81% would like to see more local cafes and casual dining, closely followed by more retail options.

A retail strategy will help the City understand and address challenges including:

  • What specific land parcels, nodes, neighbourhoods, or areas within Colwood are viable for retail space?
  • What can be done to overcome labour force challenges related to housing, health, and transportation?
  • What can cities do to support restaurant and retail operators in these challenging times?
  • What role does traffic, parking, active transportation, urban form, and placemaking play, and how can cities influence this to the advantage of retailers?

A commercial retail strategy will help inform how the City positions itself to attract the right mix of commercial retail businesses in the context of our region where many municipalities are competing for a limited set of business operators. This work will help to ensure the viability of legacy retailers in Colwood.

The retail strategy will help inform decisions regarding commercial/retail land use decisions with regards to retail node expansion, retail positioning and ensuring the viability of legacy retailers in Colwood. To this end, Colwood is seeking to comprehend the health and vitality of their existing retailing areas as well as considerations for new retail in the rapidly developing Royal Bay area and surrounding communities.

Understanding the impact of growth

Of note to this consideration is the potential uncertainty the community may be experiencing with regards to the degree of growth and development in the near future as a result of the soon-to-be-adopted Provincial Housing Bill 44, which will have significant implications for population growth in Colwood and the West Shore more generally. Additionally, the regional context will be shifting significantly as both the City of Victoria and District of Saanich as well as Sooke and to a lesser degree Oak Bay are also considering a degree of land use change (and associated provision of retailing) in proximity to Colwood that significantly exceeds past trends.

Determining the viability of commercial nodes

Currently, Colwood's OCP regulates the location of commercial areas to a small fraction of the City especially concentrated around Colwood Corners and potentially Royal Bay with minor clusters spread throughout the community. These clusters will be impacted both by growth in the City and in the surrounding trade area as well as from increases in retailing square footage in the surrounding areas as well. Additionally, the substantial retail node in Downtown Langford provides substantial retailing opportunities which are not currently available in Colwood.

As such, it is necessary to understand the feasibility of expanding retail and associated service commercial in Colwood’s minor commercial nodes and consider the potential retailing components in the Royal Bay area and surrounding trade area. Due to previously generated capacity and growth modeling that was completed by LGeo in Colwood in 2018, it is likely that that work can be leveraged to assist the City with the retail strategy development process.

What the retail strategy will include

  • A City-wide assessment of all Commercial Land Use areas to determine 2 a level of additional commercial floor space that is supportable based on current conditions and forecasted market growth in the trade areas;
  • The identification of specific parcels, nodes and/or areas within Commercial Land Use areas and/or (potentially) neighbourhoods where the inclusion of new retail space would be viable, (from an ‘achievable sales-per-square foot’ perspective), and have the greatest positive net impact (i.e., new market generation, supplying underserved areas and reducing impact on legacy retailers);
  • A nuanced commentary on potential factors (land use, urban form, positioning, programming, taxation and DCCs, overall planning context) that may influence or contribute to the relative success or failure of local-serving retail in the City.
  • Strategies and actions that can be deployed by the City to position new and existing commercial areas for success.

Involving the Colwood business community

In April 2024 the City partnered with the WestShore Chamber of Commerce to host a Prosperity Roundtable with members of the Colwood business community. This particular sought input on the challenges they face, opportunities they see, and knowledge sharing to support creation of a Retail Strategy for Colwood.