News

Breakfast takes a holiday

With the Victoria Airport Authority as event sponsor, it wasn’t a stretch for the three Peninsula mayors to make transportation a link in their chats during the annual Mayors’ Breakfast.

The event hosted by the Saanich Peninsula Chamber of Commerce at the Institute of Ocean Sciences, brings together the three top municipal leaders with the business community to start each year.

This year, ferries, flight and roads connected the speeches by mayors Alice Finall (North Saanich), Larry Cross (Sidney) and Jack Mar (Central Saanich).

The airport is a very large physical part of North Saanich, Finall noted, outlining a list of achievements on VAA lands last year which include the Sobeys lease to build a $31 million distribution centre, the completed Slegg Lumber building, and the new airside operations centre opened last summer.

“In addition, the Victoria Airport Authority has presented a proposal for a new office building on Mills Road providing opportunities for local business,” Finall said. “These combined with existing, continued business activities at the airport are encouraging business growth together with related job opportunities.”

Finall, the first to speak, was also first to address the planned temporary closure of the Brentwood Bay ferry terminal this spring to allow for upgrades to accommodate a newer vessel to run the route.

“This ferry run is important to all residents,” said Finall, noting she’d already heard concerns from residents in North Saanich.

Mar seemed positive about the impending changes from a 17-car boat to the larger 22-vehicle ferry planned for late May.

“They’re talking about putting a new ferry at Mill Bay and Brentwood,” he said. “We’ve had some discussion with David Hahn, so it’s great to hear the news that’s coming down the pipeline.”

The Anacortes ferry route, which comes into Sidney international ferry terminal, was up for discussion as well, with a proposed budget cut that would reduce the Washington State ferry service from nine months of the year, to five months of the year.

“For the first time the government has recognized the value in it,” Cross said, noting that unlike previous years, the threat isn’t to cut the run, but reduce it.

“The up side of that, is that for the first time the governor has recognized the run is valid. In other words it’s not just a cancelled run,” Cross said. “The problem with that is the peak period is already pretty well fully loaded.”

“Certainly our colleagues in the United States are actively involved in it, discussing it and are campaigning,” he added. “I know we’ll have the support of our local business community, both here on the Peninsula and the Lower Island.”

“Ferries are not boats, ferries are marine highways,” added John Treleaven, chamber president and master of ceremonies for the morning event. “This marine highway connects two nations and many communities.”

Victoria International Airport is onboard for a proposed pedestrian overpass that the Sidney council has been pushing for, Cross told the group.

“We have a commitment from the airport authority … for $100,000 to assist in the construction of an (pedestrian) overpass at Beacon Avenue and Highway 17. It’s just a high risk area right now,” he said. They’re also looking at other partners, including ICBC, and of course senior levels of government, Cross noted in a verbal nudge to Murray Coell and Gary Lunn who also attended the breakfast.

“We’re prepared to put money in as well,” Cross said.

Mayor Mar noted that Central Saanich is looking at a different section of the Pat Bay Highway.

“We had this Highway 17 corridor study done … we made the presentation to our Transportation Minister Shirley Bond and she has received our findings. We’re looking ahead for what’s going to take place in the very near future when there’s money on the table,” he said.

“We had asked for a full interchange at Keating X which is our major industrial site and tax base.”

However, the study found that the soil and water table may not allow for construction of a full interchange.

“They suggest we do a fly-over only at Keating X and take the other half of the funding and do a D-style interchange just north of Island View. I’d be happy if that takes place in the next five years. So, I’m really hoping on our senior governments for funding to help us finish that project.”

reporter@peninsulanewsreview.com

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