Miles of beaches, iconic landmarks and huge potential for growth: the City of Colwood is a star in the making.

Q&A with the City of Colwood

With its breathtaking oceanfront, some of the most beautiful parks and trails on Southern Vancouver Island and historic landmarks like Fisgard Lighthouse and Hatley Castle (home to Royal Roads University), it’s no wonder the City of Colwood is both a frequent location for Hallmark movies and one of the most enticing communities for families.

Along with Colwood’s camera-worthy charm, the municipality is among the most equipped in the region to deliver on increased demand for densified housing as the South Island population continues to expand. 

In fact, Colwood is in the midst of significant change, with several new developments planned throughout the city and along its waterfront ​at Royal Bay and Royal Beach where new homes, schools, shopping, dining and businesses are under construction on nearly 500 acres of land set along the ocean. 

Colwood could also form part of a proposed solution to regional transportation challenges. In 2021, the Capital Regional District (CRD) Board resolved to advocate for a full West Shore Ferry feasibility study on the viability of a passenger ferry from Royal Bay in Colwood to Ship Point in downtown Victoria. 

The municipality will soon expand its cultural offerings when a multi-million dollar project to house the Royal BC Museum’s archives, collections and research departments, and improve access to the museum’s vast collections, is complete.

Colwood Mayor Rob Martin talks about what economic prosperity looks like for his municipality as he shares their goals for sustainable growth.

Mayor Rob Martin, City of Colwood.
Mayor Rob Martin, City of Colwood.

Why did the City of Colwood join South Island Prosperity Partnership?

The South Island Prosperity Partnership is all about working together as a unified region to increase opportunities to attract economic investment on the international scale that will benefit the prosperity of the people and businesses of Colwood and all communities in the South Island. 

Although our neighbourhoods and communities across the South Island are unique, Colwood sees itself as a positive component of a greater South Island story. 

What do you see as key to growing a resilient, robust economic future for our region?

Clarifying and articulating the competitive advantages of the region and each municipality and playing to our strengths when targeting new investment is vital, as is keeping the quality of life of residents at the forefront. 

This means creating local jobs and investment opportunities while fostering professional advancement opportunities to ensure large scale investment attraction supports the health of our region and residents both indirectly and directly.

What is our region’s secret sauce when it comes to competing internationally to attract quality talent, businesses with household sustaining jobs, and investment?

Our beautiful, natural, seaside environment and moderate climate make the South Island uniquely desirable for tourism-related sectors as well as offering a high quality of life to attract and retain an experienced labour force.

What are you most excited about in terms of your own City of Colwood plans and potential?

We know that household prosperity and quality of life are the key to a thriving community of people that provides a strong and qualified workforce to attract investment and businesses. 

With that in mind, Colwood is focusing on making our community the ideal place to live and do business, by:

  • providing a range of housing options to meet the needs of people at all stages of life,
  • continually enhancing transportation options to reduce traffic congestion, provide realistic alternatives to driving, and work toward our climate goals,
  • protecting connections to nature through natural asset management, site adaptive planning methods highlighted in our Official community Plan and further enhancing the environmental and personal health benefits through our Parks & Recreation Master Plan.

What’s one thing about Colwood you really want people to know that they probably don’t know? 

Colwood is growing – but thoughtfully. Colwood is working hard to balance the need for new homes and business investment with access to nature and natural asset management. We’re working to balance the need for vehicles to move efficiently through the region while increasing the availability, safety and comfort of mass transit and active transportation options. 

And we’re working with the Lekwungen people to acknowledge our full history and walk softly on the land, protect unique archeological and environmentally sensitive areas, as we strive to reach our climate goals.

What challenges are you most invested in helping our community overcome and why?

Housing is a fundamental need, both for residents, and for businesses who are suffering from a shortage of workers. Colwood is working to add a range of housing options in intended growth areas, while protecting connections to nature and providing access to realistic transportation choices. 

Each of these community enhancements create the environment for both residents and businesses to thrive.

What lessons have most profoundly impacted you since the pandemic sent shockwaves through our community and economy?

The pandemic highlighted the importance of home, health, community, social connection and access to nature. This renewed Colwood’s focus on parks, trails, active transportation routes and recreation as shown in the creation of our Parks & Recreation Management Plan. 

Colwood was recently recognized by PGMag as one of the top five communities in Canada to work from home. This is based on housing availability and relative affordability, proximity to beaches and parks to maintain a high quality of life, as well as business supports such as high-speed internet and coworking opportunities.

Another positive impact of the pandemic was the strong move to support local businesses, an area the City of Colwood demonstrated leadership on through its Economic Recovery Plan that put in place a multitude of actions to help local businesses thrive throughout the pandemic.

When you envision the South Island region in 2040, what will have changed? What does our future look like?

Colwood envisions a region that offers a range of housing opportunities for people at every age and stage of life. Through advocacy with the Provincial Government, residents have access to health care provided by interdisciplinary teams of medical professionals rather than relying solely on family physicians.

Connections to nature are protected for the environmental, health, recreational and resiliency benefits they offer related to climate change. This is supported by transportation improvements that support active transportation and mass transit while reducing single occupancy vehicle dependency and cutting GHG emissions significantly.