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Health services demand in Royal Bay sees Colwood consider zoning bylaw change

Developer requests retail-only zoning be changed to allow medical, professional offices
Colwood council is considering an amendment which would change retail-only zoning to allow for more medical or professional offices in a section of Royal Bay under development. (Justin Samanski-Langille/News Staff file photo)

The City of Colwood is considering a rezoning amendment which would allow medical and professional offices in a section under development in Royal Bay, currently zoned for retail only.

Pacific Capital Real Estate Group submitted the application for Area 2 of Comprehensive Development 28 at 365 Latoria Blvd., across the road from the completed residential areas.

Existing zoning only permits retail stores in first-floor units fronting the northern side of what will become Commons Street, with the intention of making that area a pedestrian-focused retail street and the main commercial area of the rapidly growing Royal Bay community.

READ MORE: Residents voice mostly opposition to Colwood rezoning proposal

Pacific Capital is seeking the change having received significant interest from area residents and potential commercial tenants for more medical and professional space.

In a report to council, city staff recommended a zoning bylaw amendment that would allow medical and professional use, which includes businesses such as dentists, veterinarians and physiotherapists.

After debating how much of the area should be rezoned at the April 25 meeting, council ultimately sent the application back to staff for further study.

“The discussion we had at the table was about how can we still accomplish what our vision is, but allow (the amendment) to happen,” said Mayor Rob Martin.

Options debated included allowing either 35 or 50 per cent of the area to house medical or professional office space.

A motion narrowly passed to have staff work with the developer to determine an appropriate percentage, then bring back a new recommendation for consideration by council in the near future.

Martin, who opposed the motion to request further input, saying the developer should have the freedom to adjust to market demands, suspects staff will end up recommending something close to the 35 per cent pitched during debate.

“I think it’s good council is considering this amendment; I certainly will be supportive of this when we find that sweet spot in terms of percentage. I think if you live in Royal Bay and you can walk to your massage therapist instead of getting into your car, we are still achieving some of those original goals in terms of active transportation,” he said. “It’s about listening, and right now we are listening to the business community about what the economics are locally right now. But that doesn’t mean that in three to five years things can’t change.”

Martin does not expect staff to take long to come back to council with a more detailed recommendation, and expects the bylaw amendment vote to happen sometime in May.

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Justin Samanski-Langille

About the Author: Justin Samanski-Langille

I moved coast-to-coast to discover and share the stories of the West Shore, joining Black Press in 2021 after four years as a reporter in New Brunswick.
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