Saturday July 2, 2022 | COLWOOD, BC [Updated July 4, 2022]
by Mary P Brooke | Island Social Trends
“It was a pretty easy decision to run again, I love the job!”.
That’s what City of Colwood Mayor Rob Martin has told Island Social Trends this week, as he throws his hat into the ring for a second term of leading the fast-growing west shore community. His campaign website has been launched at martinformayor.ca .
“Colwood is a little bit different than other municipalities,” says Martin. Colwood has “a little bit of Metchosin, Langford and View Royal”: there is a good mix of greenspace, rate of community growth, and range of housing types.
Martin knows the other municipalities well. Not only by sitting on the Capital Regional District (CRD) board representing Colwood, but through his extensive community connections.
His style of leadership is to invite open dialogue at the council table and allow each project or motion to proceed through its own process — so that everyone has a say. That includes the public as well. Colwood’s staff does a great job inviting public input in a variety of ways.
All of that is synthesized by Mayor Martin into a move-forward community where most people are on board with the growth and various project directions. That sets a positive tone for cooperative resolution of any contentious issues that pop up.
“A great community is measured by the way city hall meets the needs of its residents,” Martin pitches on his campaign website. Among other things, the City of Colwood maintains its own public works yard.
Progress during 2018-2022:
Of course Martin is very pleased with progress made in the municipality under his leadership over the past four years.
That includes putting the sustainable infrastructure plan in place (to sock away one percent of each year’s municipal budget to take care of infrastructure maintenance over the years ahead) and landing the Royal BC Museum collections building onto a Colwood footprint (announced in September 2020 and under construction, set to open in 2025, continuing separate and apart from any decisions about the downtown museum building).
With so many new homes being built (including condos and townhomes) there is a sense of ‘new community’, as many of the people buying or renting these new spaces are new to Colwood. It sets a fresh sense of community in motion.
The new housing sprouting up in those areas is filling schools to overflowing, but Martin and his council have had a good working relationship with the SD62 Sooke School District. Colwood has been well served by expansion of the Royal Bay Seconday School (which needed 600 additional seats even after opening in September 2015). A new south Latoriaa-area elementary school was announced a few weeks ago, set to open in September 2025.
Under his leadership the “Wale Road hole” was developed after 12 years sitting as an eyesore and wasted resource, now providing housing for Indigenous residents.
Martin was instrumental in getting an upgraded child care centre into the Juan de Fuca Rec Centre, which launched in September 2021, with an official opening in December 2021.
More jobs come along with all this growth, including Seaspan as a major enterprise getting set up on the Allandale Lands but also the many PhD-level jobs to come at the museum collections building, hundreds of health-care worker jobs at a new long-term care facility being built by Island Health, and in a range of job levels in the new retail that comes along with all this.
Working with developers:
Martin likes to see his municipality work cooperatively with developers. Colwood works effectively with developers on their master plans for their communities, digging into things like urban landscaping and transportation impacts.
Earlier this year an example of a cooperative project was seen at the official opening of a public washroom building in Meadow Park Green.
The next BC Municipal Election is coming up on October 15, 2022. The Elections BC active campaign period officially starts July 18. Candidates for mayor and council run for a four-year term.
Martin on council since 2011:
Rob Martin is finishing up his first term as mayor (2014-2018). While he had been on Colwood Council for two terms before that, being in the mayor’s role for four years has sharpened his policy acumen and polished his style of delivery.
This term (2018-2022) Mayor Rob Martin has served on the Capital Regional District (CRD) Board, as well as:
- Chair of the Te’mexw Treaty Advisory Committee
- Vice-Chair Greater Victoria Labour Relations Association
- Vice-Chair CRD Planning and Protective Services committee
- Director of the Victoria Regional Transit Commission
- Director of the CRD Hospital District board
- Director of the CRD Housing Corporation board
- Director of the South Island Prosperity Partnership
- CRD rep for the Greater Victoria Harbour Authority Community Liaison committee
Martin’s past positions have included:
- Board Chair for the Greater Victoria Public Library (GVPL) – 2016-2018
- Board Chair for West Shore Parks & Recreation (WSPR) – 2012-2016
- Colwood Emergency Planning Committee – 2011-2018
Rob Martin is one of the most-easily-liked mayors in the region. He gets out and about in the community and participates in west shore region initiatives (west shore being Langford, Colwood, Highlands, Metchosin and View Royal) including with the West Shore Chamber of Commerce and for region-wide community events like Remembrance Day held at Veterans Memorial Park.
In fact, last month Martin said that “sometimes it’s important to know when the follow” in response to Langford’s mayor announcing a major fundraising initiative to support food sustainability in war-torn Ukraine. Colwood supported that initiative.
Martin believes in recreation, libraries and the arts as the pillars of great communities.
“How we move people around in our community” is a key policy point for Martin. He cites an integrated network of roadways, bus service, light rail and the proposed west shore ferry project as working together to serve the range of needs for those who live, work and enjoy recreation in the west shore. He calls it “multi-modal”. Martin purports that if options are provided that “people will choose what will move them most effectively”.
Nowadays, there’s no mention of the so-called ‘Colwood crawl’ now that the BC Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure (MOTI) has completed the McKenzie Interchange. The success of that allows motorist traffic to flow effectively between the west shore and Saanich/Victoria.
The west shore ferry idea — now at least four years in the making under Martin’s leadership — still requires a full feasibility study.
In March 2019, BC Ferries published a pre-feasibility study which supported the feasibility and financial viability of a west shore passenger ferry from Royal Bay in Colwood to Ship Point in downtown Victoria.
Colwood’s mayor has been told by MOTI Minister Rob Fleming that the full feasibility study would cost about $1 million, after which a public input process would happen. The funds for the feasibility study didn’t get into the 2022-2023 provincial budget, but Martin sees movement on that in the coming years as the Province is already investing in upgrading the Belleville Terminal (where the Coho and Clipper come in) to accommodate a passenger ferry.
Having a Colwood Mayor on board with the west shore ferry idea is essential to the project moving ahead, says Martin. Evidently one of his current city councillors — Doug Kobayashi — has not been in favour of the west shore ferry. Kobayashi recently announced that he is also running for mayor.
Parks and sustainability:
Martin wants to continue the City of Colwood’s focus on parks and preserving greenspace.
There are seven kilometres of waterfront and 56 parks in Colwood. A symbolic dogwood tree was planted in an already-established park on Earth Day 2022, with Martin there, shovel in hand to dig it in. The 180-acre Royal Beach will include over 43 acres of parkland for residents.
“Our beautiful, natural, seaside environment and moderate climate offer high quality of life to all who live here and provide untapped opportunities for eco tourism,” says Martin.
He is very proud of the Galloping Goose pedestrian bridge, including that the project received one of the largest federal infrastructure grants in this region.
Similarly, Colwood as a whole seems to take pride in the openness of its community events to people from the broader region. A big one coming up is the Eats and Beats on Saturday July 30.
At least three Colwood council seats open:
With Councillor Kobayashi running for mayor, and Councillors Gordie Logan and Michael Baxter not running again, that leaves three of the six would-be incumbent seats open for the October 15, 2022 ballot.
Kobayashi was first elected in 2018. In contrast to the Martin camp, Kobayashi says residents are raising concerns about the city’s handling of environment, transportation, and housing and how the city is being governed. Kobayashi tends to take a tight budget-oriented look at things, sometimes missing the bigger picture; he ran as the federal Liberal candidate for Esquimalt-Saanich-Sooke in 2021.
There is no official word yet on the campaign intentions of current Colwood City Councillors Cynthia Day, Dean Jantzen or Stewart Parkinson.
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Island Social Trends editor Mary P Brooke has been reporting on the west shore since 2008, and the broader south Vancouver Island region since 2014.
Summer action every weekend in Colwood (June 14, 2022)
Colwood Clean Up well-attended after pandemic backlog (June 14, 2022)
West shore average house price solidly over $1.1 million (May 2, 2022)
Colwood Clean Up happening today & Saturday (April 29, 2022)
JDF Child Care Centre responds to community demand (January 17, 2022)