Sidney supports VAA’s plan to remove 10 acres from the ALR

The VAA wants the land excluded from the ALR to prepare it for their long-term plans of developing the site.

The Town is supporting the Victoria Airport Authority’s (VAA) request to let B.C.’s Agricultural Land Commission know they support the VAA’s plan to remove 10 acres of land from Agricultural Land Reserve — even though they say it isn’t really necessary.

VAA President and CEO Geoff Dickson asked council to support their plan to have the land excluded from the ALR, in what is essentially a ‘good neighbour’ position, as those agricultural land protection rules do not apply to federal land.

“The feds do not recognize it,” he said to council at its Monday, Aug. 10 meeting. “We could have chosen that route but we’re following an accord with the Town of Sidney and we’re taking the high road.”

The VAA wants the land excluded from the ALR to prepare it for their long-term plans of developing the site into a retail commercial area, known as the Sidney Gateway.

Dickson pointed out that not only is the land designated commercial in the VAA’s own zoning, the Town, too, has earmarked it for commercial zoning in its official community plan — although it’s currently zoned for residential and utility use.

Councillor Mervyn Lougher-Goodey, while saying he understands the spirit of collaboration taken by the VAA, also said he felt the step was, ultimately, unnecessary should the airport simply want to ignore the ALC.

“If there’s no support, this (land exemption) isn’t likely to go ahead,” Dickson said.

Town council voted unanimously to lend its support to the ALR land issue only. Coun. Peter Wainwright noted this vote does not mean  the commercial project will receive the same support later on.