Company leaves Central Saanich after wave of complaints

Residents along Hovey Road fought Central Saanich, VI Pallet to stop heavy truck traffic on rural road.

VI Pallet found their operation in conflict with residents along Central Saanich’s Hovey Road.

Neighbours are feeling at peace on Hovey Road after VI Pallet Recovery & Logistics recently moved after months of pressure.

“The neighbours were able to exert the most pressure on us and we were losing so much money that we moved. We had no choice,” said Kevin Gray, a co-owner of the company alongside Jeff Morefield.

Residents had expressed concerns around safety of the large trucks from VI Pallet travelling along Hovey and Tomlinson roads and they had been lobbying local government for around a year.

Gray said they were forced into a position where they could no longer afford to stay on property they had been leasing from a member of the Tsartlip First Nation.

Their business, however, will carry on in Cobble Hill, where Gray said they will start from scratch, with zero cash flow.

“Thankfully we found a business owner in this area (Central Saanich) that understands the needs of small business, that respects it, and respects how hard we work,” he said.

Gray said they used every penny they had to save the site in order to support landowners Nathan Cooper and the Tsartlip First Nation.

“There comes a point where it becomes destructive to the company where you just simply cannot afford any longer to do it, without the very real chance of a business failing because of it,” said Gray.

For area residents like Terry Forsyth, they’re happy the company has moved its operations.

“You actually see people walking on the road and the people are slowly moving back,” said Forsyth, adding that it’s more peaceful now that there’s no more trucks regularly using the road.

The company first moved onto the Hovey Road location in 2015 following a six-month search for property, Gray said, adding it was difficult, as lease rates in Victoria were so high.

“We’ve moved three times now in two years and this was supposed to be the site we were going to set up on permanently,” he said, adding they had a six year lease.

VI Pallet’s holding lot is on land held by the Victoria Airport Authority, allowing the company’s Victoria drivers to bring the pallets for recovery or recycling north. Gray said they lost some customers while they were operating on Hovey Road, adding it wasn’t because of lack of service. He said it was due to a hit in their  reputation.

“This whole debacle down there, it literally cost us the value of the company.”

The District of Central Saanich is still pursuing a course of action with regards to an amendment to their traffic bylaw, which allows them to create and impose an extraordinary traffic agreement.

“Until council changes direction with the bylaw or if it changes direction, I would say … that we had to pursue a bylaw and I would be surprised if we changed direction,” said Mayor Ryan Windsor.

Windsor said a bylaw change could deal with a situation that arises in the future.

“If the situation arises again in a year or five years, there will be a tool in place to try to address it,” he said.

Forsyth suggested the District of Central Saanich put up a sign at the end of Stelly’s Cross Road and Tomlinson Road, indicating no trucks over 5,500 kilograms are allowed, except for local deliveries.

Decisions around the bylaw amendment will take place at the District’s regular council meeting on Dec. 19.

Members of Tsartlip First Nation were contacted but did not get back to the PNR.