News

Co-op hears public debate

Nearly 100 people spoke during a six-hour public hearing for the Peninsula Co-op grocery store.

The public hearing was the last chance for Central Saanich residents to have their say on whether or not council should rezone a piece of property on West Saanich road to allow the development of a new grocery store for the Co-op.

The land, although not in the Agricultural Land Reserve, is not within the district’s Urban Containment Boundary.

When the official community plan was reviewed in 2007-2008, the intersection of West Saanich and Keating X roads was discussed and council of the day did not support changing the urban containment boundary or land use designations.

In order for the proposal to proceed, amendments must be made to the Regional Growth strategy, Regional Context Statement and Official Community Plan, along with rezoning, and development permit and development variance permit and subdivision processes.

The plan has been seen by the Advisory Planning Commission which did not feel it would be appropriate for the Official Community Plan to be amended to accommodate the proposal.

“My comments will be limited to the current Official Community Plan and the Urban Settlement area boundaries,” said Gordon Denford, vice president of the Peninsula Co-op board. “I refer to the Official Community Plan as current because it is supposed to be reviewed and revised every five years in order to accommodate the changing needs of the community for housing, commercial, light industrial growth as well as services and transportation.”

Denford noted that approximately 20 per cent of land in Central Saanich is not within the ALR or First Nations reserves.  “With so little available urban land … one wonders why the council did not declare the ALR boundaries and the exclusion of the two First Nations as being the urban containment limits and designated the balance of the land in the Regional Growth Strategy for urban use in the foreseeable future,” he said.

Speakers at the public hearing were split on the idea of rezoning the property.

“The objective of the Official Community Plan is to preserve our rural lands,” said Central Saanich resident Roni Anderson. “They are designated rural, they are intended to be rural, they are intended to be retained as rural and residential … it’s unfortunate that the Co-op received bad advice 16 years ago (when it purchased the property).”

The application requires referral to the Capital Regional District for approval of amendments to the Regional Context Statement in the OCP and amending the land use designation and extension of the Regional Urban Containment and Servicing Policy Area in the CRD’s Regional Growth Strategy and the urban settlement area in the district’s OCP to allow it to be approved.

Council will debate the results of the public hearing and make a decision on rezoning at an upcoming meeting.

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