Sidney opts for smaller employee parking lot plan

No grant means Town must downsize the lot; skate park will still move.

Proposed changes to a municipal parking lot plan could see it reduced in size and moved further south of the Mary Winspear Centre.

Plans for a large parking lot next to the Pat Bay Highway in Sidney are changing after the municipality lost its bid for grant money to help pay for it.

Sidney had floated the idea in 2015 of a 314-stall parking lot on land south of the Mary Winspear Centre and north of its public works yard.

The idea was to try to encourage downtown employees in Sidney to park there and help alleviate parking pressure in the downtown core.

The project was riding on lease agreements in the works with the society that runs the Mary Winspear Centre, as well as federal gas tax grant money.

According to the Town, they heard in February of this year that they were not successful in getting a grant. Mayor Steve Price mentioned that outcome at the Saanich Peninsula Chamber of Commerce Mayor’s Breakfast Feb. 23.

As a result, the municipality has announced it’s scaling back the project, reducing the size of the parking lot to make it more affordable. Price stated as well that the Town would look into paying for the entire project itself.

According to the Town, a redesigned, smaller parking lot is being considered for the empty space between the current skate park and the works yard, between Orchard and Oakville streets. A conceptual plan on Sidney’s website shows the proposed new lot sitting against the southern border of the existing skate park.

The initial, larger lot would have been built over the skate park site.

That had prompted the Town to start consultation on a possible new skateboard facility in Tulista Park.

Councillor Cam McLennan says plans for a new skate park are going ahead, despite the change to a smaller parking lot near the Mary Winspear Centre.

“No, the existing skate park is not going to be saved,” he said. “The idea is to get a new one, professionally designed to meet the needs of today’s users.”

He said the vision is, over time, that the existing Winspear parking lot would connect with the Town’s proposed pavement. The logical connection of the two, he said, would be where the current skate park sits.

As a result, McLennan said Sidney is still looking at developing a new skate park facility in Tulista Park.

On March 30, consultants NewLine Skateparks will return to town with preliminary designs for a new space.

McLennan said he expects the company, which held an open house and sought park user ideas on Nov. 25 last year, will bring three options to the table. From there, additional feedback will refine the plans into a proposal that would go before the Town for approval.

The March 30 design presentation open house will be at the Sidney Fire Hall, starting at 6 p.m.