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Victoria prepares for development rush

Region roars into 2018 with multibillion-dollar projects starting or expanding
Rendering shows overall vision for the mixed-use Bayview and Roundhouse development in Victoria West by Focus Equities, which has started its latest phase | Focus Equities

Greater Victoria will accelerate into 2018 as B.C.’s second-busiest city for real estate development with existing major retail and residential projects surging forward and new ones firing up. The booming industrial sector is clamouring for space as the vacancy rate has fallen to near-record lows.

Building permit values as of the end of October were up 170% from the same time a year earlier to $184.7 million, according to Statistics Canada.

It appears that 2018 will be even higher.

Bosa Development, which bought Victoria’s Empress Hotel four years ago, has added Dockside Green to its Victoria portfolio as it plans to build out the mixed-use property.

Vancity Credit Union, through Dockside Green Ltd., sold Bosa the 10 acres of the 15-acre site that are still to be completed. This equals to one million square feet buildable, 90% of which will be residential.

Construction on three more residential towers will start in 2018, said Ryan Bosa, president of Vancouver-based Bosa Living.

Another large Victoria West project, the on-going Bayview and Roundhouse development by Focus Equities, will kick into a higher gear in 2018. A third residential tower – at 17 storeys – completes and is already sold out. Future condo buildings are planned for as high as 26 storeys.

Work has started on a $75-million seniors residence on the site. Vancouver-based Element Lifestyle Retirement is behind the 153,000-square-foot seniors facility that will have five-storeys and feature 155 units to purchase or rent, and includes 35 licensed care units.

Developer Kenneth Mariash expects another six structures will be built, including a hotel and a heritage-style retail village.

At completion, the entire development is expected to be worth more than $1 billion.

Meanwhile, the $35 million Sidney Crossing retail project is expected to break ground early in 2018, according to Omicron vice-president Peter Laughlin.

The 10-acre site is on airport land just outside of Sidney. The Victoria Airport Authority supports the development, and Omicron received rezoning and approval from the Town of Sidney in September 2016.

The 100,000-square-foot centre will include 10 buildings, with plans for anchor grocery and major appliance and electronics stores, Omicron said.


Greater Victoria’s industrial market is seeing a seismic shift, according to commercial agents.

More than 281,000 square feet was taken up in the first half of 2017, the highest level in five years. The region’s vacancy rate is below 2 per cent, lowest in a decade, the average least rate is $12.50 per square foot, up from $12 a year ago, and rising; 75,000 square feet is under construction, and that is expected to reach 100,000 square feet in 2018.

Prices for prime industrial land have soared above $1.2 million per acre, also unprecedented.

North Saanch and Sidney, with a 1.6 per cent vacancy rate and land still available; and the Westshore, where Victoria Shipyards is expanding, are expected to lead the industrial action into 2018, according to Colliers International.

The new Sean Heights Business Park in Central Saanich has recently seen 20,000 square feet leased up and will complete a further 17,000 square feet next spring.

But experts warn that more new industrial space is needed.

“We are at a critical point where business don’t have any growth options. The lack of supply is limiting their ability to grow with our strong economy,” said Ty Whittaker, an industrial specialist and senior vice-president with Colliers International, Victoria.