Airport commercial plans pushed to the new year

Traffic issues raised by the public at open houses will be evaluated

Traffic issues raised by the public at open houses held in July by the Victoria Airport Authority (VAA) on the potential to develop land near Sidney will be evaluated before any plans proceed.

On Aug. 20, the VAA wrote to Town council to say they intend to commission a detailed traffic review along Beacon Avenue, west of Highway 17. That, and consideration of infrastructure costs involved with the project, will push the VAA’s zoning and official community plan amendment application into the new year. James Bogusz, the VAA’s vice-president of operations and development says the feedback brought up two significant points they have to consider: whether a proposed roundabout on Beacon at Sterling Avenue will impact traffic coming off the highway, and; if changes to the land will impact potential Ministry of Highways and Infrastructure plans to overpass the highway into Sidney.

“People had good ideas out of the survey and we wanted to make mayor and council aware of that,” Bogusz said.

He added the traffic study is one of the assurances sought by the Town and said it would be better to do that work sooner than later. Whether the proposed roundabout stays where it is or moves further west will be part of the review’s outcome.

And while he said he doesn’t think the proposed use of the land will impact the province’s long-term plans for a vehicle overpass, that’s what an infrastructure analysis will determine. Provincial plans for traffic infrastructure in Sidney have been on the books for years. While a proposed pedestrian overpass north of the Beacon Avenue and Highway 17 intersection is closer to reality, there has been no indication the province plans to proceed any time soon with any other major traffic work.

Bogusz said the public response showed overall support for some kind of commercial development on the site.

The project is being led by the VAA, which holds a long-term (43-year) lease on most of the 10-acre property. The Town of Sidney owns a smaller portion and has agreed to a partnership with the VAA. Mayor Larry Cross has said he hopes to see some sort of gateway-to-Sidney feature on the property as part of the project.

Bogusz added the first step in the process is to seek the OCP and zoning amendments to pave the way for any development. He said the VAA has not started marketing the site (it has no official moniker either, he said), there are no tenants and consultation with the Town and province must continue before that step occurs.

VAA survey results

The Victoria Airport Authority says it received 155 responses to its (mostly) online survey on the future of potential commercial land west of highway 17, along Beacon Avenue.

Of those, most respondents indicate they live in Sidney. Another majority – 57.4 per cent – stated that commercial use of the property was appropriate.

Of commercial uses, a mixed response showed restaurants, offices, retail space and hotels are favoured.

The six-question survey also asked people to select important community benefits and provide additional thoughts.