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Push for rentals continues with transformation of Old Town office block

The former Ministry of Forests and Service Canada building at 595 Pandora Avenue in downtown Victoria’s Old Town district will be brought back to life as a mixed-use residential and commercial project.

Developer Stan Sipos and son Jonathan have submitted plans to City Hall seeking approval to re-purpose the 1980’s-era four storey office building into 51 rental units and 5,000 square feet of commercial space [Read more]



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[Colwood] Royal Bay | Subdivision | 2,800 homes | U/C


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#1 ressen

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Posted 01 December 2007 - 06:49 PM

It looks like they are in high gear of shutting down the gravel pit in order to get it ready for housing. This may be the next big project on the West shore.









#2 gumgum

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Posted 01 December 2007 - 07:14 PM

That's going to change the face of the western communities!

I was thinking when that area finally gets built, it would be a great place for a fastcat commuter boat. Imagine hopping into a boat with your briefcase and suit to be jetted off to the office somewhere near the Inner Harbour. It could even make a stop in Esquimalt along the way. It would certainly be quicker than the crawl.

#3 VicHockeyFan

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Posted 01 December 2007 - 07:59 PM

You know, that stretch of Metchosin Rd. has such an awesome view, and no houses on either side really. It will be cool for some homeowners to have that view.

#4 LJ

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Posted 01 December 2007 - 08:23 PM

Where did you hear that they were shutting down the gravel pit?

Last I heard they stated they had 20 years life left.

#5 amor de cosmos

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Posted 01 December 2007 - 09:42 PM

more like it'll take 20 years to completely finish the whole neighbourhood.

#6 G-Man

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Posted 01 December 2007 - 09:45 PM

When Royal Bay was first proposed back in the late 90s there was talk of a commuter ferry to downtown from the town centre. Not sure if that was just developer boosterism or if they were serious about it...

#7 amor de cosmos

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Posted 01 December 2007 - 09:58 PM

a commuter ferry that stops in esquimalt somewhere is definitely a cool idea.

#8 Mike K.

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Posted 02 December 2007 - 05:29 PM

Thanks for the photos, ressen.

Once the middle portion of the pit is cleaned up they'll be going ahead with plans for a village centre that includes apartments and retail space.

The location rivals most any suburban development given that it's not on a mountainside and still has sweeping views of the core of Victoria (as VHF suggested up top). It's like Aquattro on steroids!

LJ, cleanup and closing of the pit is taking place as we speak. The builders are reclaiming the land in phases.

#9 LJ

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Posted 02 December 2007 - 08:15 PM

LJ, cleanup and closing of the pit is taking place as we speak. The builders are reclaiming the land in phases.




Well put me in the lineup to buy a lot there, got to be the best view in the CRD with no hills to climb. Of course I may be influenced by the fact that I just had to shovel a walkway to the road through 14" of snow, while down below the roads are bare and wet!

#10 amor de cosmos

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Posted 02 December 2007 - 08:34 PM

Well put me in the lineup to buy a lot there, got to be the best view in the CRD with no hills to climb.


Well it's definitely not obscured by trees. I hope they're planning on planting some trees or bushes or something. If not, it will look a lot like Sunnymead!

#11 Mike K.

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Posted 02 December 2007 - 09:28 PM

Of course I may be influenced by the fact that I just had to shovel a walkway to the road through 14" of snow, while down below the roads are bare and wet!


Good God, man, where in town are you?

#12 LJ

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Posted 03 December 2007 - 12:27 PM

High above Langford!

#13 ressen

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Posted 23 December 2007 - 09:03 PM

End of an era for Colwood
By Amy Dove - Goldstream News Gazette - December 19, 2007 | | | |

Lehigh gravel pit is closing after a century of leaving its mark on the West Shore

Halfway through a conversation about why the gravel mine straddling Metchosin Road is closing, Clem Dion takes a call. In a few words the production superintendent juggles the barge schedule for the only gravel mine south of the Malahat.

“This is why we are still here,” he said, noting the demand for gravel hasn’t abated.

Closing to make room for housing developments, Lehigh Northwest Materials Ltd. is loading barges for the last time this month.

A tally of this year’s business shows 2.2 million tonnes of gravel destined to become concrete have set sail from the pier in Colwood.

While business isn’t lacking, materials are. After more than 100 years in the gravel business, the mine has run out of the accessible small rocks necessary to make concrete. The mine will power down for the last time Dec. 31.

Within a year, the spider-like metal equipment is to be hauled out and the ground flattened to make way for the Royal Bay development.

“We have mined any usable gravel we have,” Dion said.

Royal Bay Developments, a division of Lehigh, has planed 2,200 single family homes for the land, with a town centre and public water-front park. Over the years, the company has sold off acreage for development — some of it useful for gravel mining, some of it not. Of the original 640-acre site, 456 acres are undeveloped. That land is up for sale for an undisclosed price.

There is no where else to harvest gravel on the south Island, development having engulfed all available sources. The product can be manufactured, but nature does it for much cheaper, Dion said.

The gravel is the remnants of a glacier deposit, he explained, which extends up to Langford Lake and is mirrored across the ocean in Washington State. The area surrounding the mine, including Royal Bay and Royal Roads University, is perched on top of vast gravel resources.

The homes in Royal Bay alone cap off an estimated 300 million tonnes of gravel. And while residents may greet the peace when the mine closes, those trying to build new homes will pay for it.

Lehigh Northwest Materials supplies 750,000 tonnes of gravel annually to projects using concrete this side of the Malahat.

“There will be a direct impact all the way down the line,” Dion said. “It’s going to be trucked in.”

There is plenty of gravel on the north Island, although finding it close to water is not easy, Dion said, noting the closest mine is in Port McNeil. The cheapest way to move gravel is by barge, making waterfront access essential. Wherever the gravel comes from, there is going to be an increase in traffic on the Malahat.

“The traffic is going to be worse by Shawingan Lake,” said Ron Hermbecker, a veteran of 34 years at the mine. “People are going to notice.”

It isn’t just the local market that will feel the closure. In 15 years, 25 million tonnes of gravel has moved from the West Shore to Alaska, Hawaii, Washington State and Vancouver.

Work has already begun to prepare the land for sale on the upper half of the mine. The area used to sit 200 feet higher, Dion said. The sandy bank was so high ships used to practice shooting canons into it, he said. The proof of which workers found when they extracted canon balls from the earth.

Over the years, the elevation was shoveled out and crews are now filling in the crater, aiming to make a gentle slope to the ocean. Sediment ponds need to be filled in and that could create a problem since they catch stormwater too, Dion said. One day after the weekend’s rain, rivers are coursing through the property — runoff from Triangle Mountain, he said.

“(The water) will just keep on going until it gets to the ocean. It’s going to be a major problem.”

When the conveyor belts stop churning as many as 70 people will be out of a job. Some of those guys have worked at the mine for more than 30 years, Dion said.

Most of the employees are West Shore residents, many graduates of Belmont secondary school. Some will retire and the rest will be transferred to other jobs, but they might not be so close to home, Dion said.

“There is lots of work out there,” he said.

reporter@goldstreamgazette.com

#14 ressen

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Posted 24 December 2007 - 08:06 AM

Mine sale will provide park
By Amy Dove - Goldstream News Gazette - December 19, 2007 | | | |

With the impending sale of waterfront gravel pit property on Metchosin Road, Colwood is confident it will get what’s coming to it.

The land, owned by Lehigh Northwest Materials Ltd., is listed with Colliers International for an undisclosed price. The gravel mine has been in operation since the early 1900s.

“We are out of resources and Lehigh is not in the development business,” said production superintendent Clem Dion.

Royal Bay Developments, a division of Lehigh, has developed land with subdivisions around the mine. The last section where the mine is operating is a 456-acre lot slated for a town centre, school and homes. About seven hectares of waterfront public park will be given to Colwood.

“All the obligations that the current owner has with the City of Colwood goes with the land (if it is sold),” said city administrator Chris Pease. “The City is well protected”

The pending sale brought concern to council over when and what they would see for park land at the Nov. 26 council meeting.

Colwood would like to take over Lehigh’s waterfront access, Pease said. Lehigh currently holds two water leases with the province: one for the foreshore area between high and low tide and one for a water lot where its pier is located. Used to load gravel onto barges, the pier is slated for deconstruction.

“We don’t want to lose that opportunity if we can inherit those two water leases,” Pease said.

The foreshore and water will always be under provincial jurisdiction. The current lease is very specific about legal use — stating only gravel extraction and barging is acceptable. Whether the City tries to retain the leases or reapplies for them, some bargaining will ensue, Pease said.

To allow for reclamation work, the new owners have until 2010 to give the park land to Colwood. At that time a proper park plan must be completed. There is a chance the agreement will be extended again if the land has not been restored to city standards, Pease said.

Council debated the merits of extending the agreement at the council table. The original deal would have seen land given to Colwood in 2008.

“I don’t want to see the city get stuck with waterfront we can’t use for 20 years,” said Coun. Jason Nault.

Park development may be contingent on the developer’s progress with the town centre, Pease said. Planning the park before the surrounding area is done might not result in the best park design, he said. While some around the council table expressed concern the future developers could cut costs with the park, Mayor Jody Twa argued differently.

“Whoever buys this 400-acre lot is going to develop it to a high end,” Twa said. Most people wouldn’t cut corners on waterfront property out of self interest, he said.

By bringing the park plan forward in 2010, the public and council will have the opportunity to weigh in on the design.

“(Council) will decide on zoning and appropriate land use. Whoever is coming asking should bear that in mind,” Coun. Ernie Robertson said, adding he predicts the new buyer will ask for more density on the site.

reporter@goldstreamgazette.com

#15 G-Man

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Posted 24 December 2007 - 08:46 AM

^ I am confused. Why would there have been a plan developed for the area if the company did not already own it? Was Royal Bay envisioned only by council and not a private firm?

#16 Holden West

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Posted 24 December 2007 - 09:31 AM

The sandy bank was so high ships used to practice shooting canons into it, he said.


That's no way to treat the great works of religion and philosophy.
"Beaver, ahoy!""The bridge is like a magnet, attracting both pedestrians and over 30,000 vehicles daily who enjoy the views of Victoria's harbour. The skyline may change, but "Big Blue" as some call it, will always be there."
-City of Victoria website, 2009

#17 G-Man

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Posted 24 December 2007 - 09:49 AM

HAHA

Or fine photography equipment.

#18 amor de cosmos

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Posted 24 December 2007 - 12:34 PM

or music

#19 Nparker

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Posted 24 December 2007 - 12:56 PM

Intelligent journalism died somewhere around the time of the Carter administration.

#20 amor de cosmos

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Posted 14 February 2008 - 05:02 PM

Ontario developer eyes Royal Bay site in Colwood

Carla Wilson, Victoria Times Colonist
Published: Thursday, February 14, 2008

VICTORIA - A major Ontario development company is considering buying the 185-hectare Royal Bay gravel site in Colwood owned by a multinational corporation based in Germany.

Christopher Bratty, one of the family members in the Remington Group, flew here a couple of weeks ago with an urban planner and other staff to meet with Colwood Mayor Jody Twa and municipal officials about the possibility of developing the property, where sand and gravel have been mined for a century. Operations at the Westshore pit are wrapping up to open the way for a massive mixed use development built out over several years.

Twa said yesterday that while the sale has not closed, Remington, a privately owned Toronto-area company, has some kind of agreement with the owner for the property. "They told us they had the ability to start working with the city (of Colwood)."

Last year, Twa met with four groups interested in developing the property and fielded calls from others as well. Of the four he met, one was Remington, another was from outside Canada, and the remaining two were Canadian.

Royal Bay, featuring views of the Pacific Ocean and Olympic Mountains, is one of the region's premier zoned development properties. The waterfront site is designated for a new community with more than 2,000 homes, a population of 7,300, a high school, and shopping area. It is owned by Lehigh Inland Cement Ltd., a major supplier of construction materials in North America. Lehigh Inland is owned by Germany's HeidelbergCement which operates in 50 countries and it one of the world's biggest suppliers of construction materials.

James Derkatch, Lehigh Inland Cement Ltd. president, said from Edmonton that Remington is doing its due diligence on Royal Bay.

Geoff Morgan, of Maverick Public Relations representing Remington, said from Toronto yesterday, "I can definitely confirm that Remington is investigating some opportunities in Victoria."

"They don't have anything done yet in terms of a deal so there is not too much they can talk about at this point." Christopher Bratty was not available, he said.

Developers eyeing Royal Bay have questioned whether changes to the site plan, developed several years ago, would be possible, Twa said.

"Ten years ago, the zoning was probably considered very dynamic." Twa added that Royal Bay is zoned for about 2,400 units while the more recently planned West Hills project is half the size and has zoning for 6,000 units.

He referred to Smart Growth ideas for community and transportation planning, which support higher density and less sprawl, suggesting a possible increase in the amount of multi-family housing and head-office space at Royal Bay.

Remington's portfolio, particularly as builder of the Downtown Markham Ontario project, is "exciting," Twa said. The Markham plan is a progressive mixed-use development with hallmarks such as energy-efficiency, recycling, a pedestrian-friendly environment, and buildings scaled to suit the area. The aim is for the 4,000 condo units, 750,000 square feet of retail, and 4.5 million square feet of offices to all qualify for Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) ratings.

etc

http://www.canada.co...e1-df7148f5fed1

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