Sidney waits for AG nod on land lease

A lease between the Town of Sidney and North Saanich Memorial Park Society for land south of the Mary Winspear Centre is about to be signed.

A lease between the Town of Sidney and North Saanich Memorial Park Society for land south of the Mary Winspear Centre is about to be signed — once the B.C. Attorney General’s office confirms its approval in writing.

Town council on Monday approved a revised lease with the Society that would see the municipality enter into a 100-year term and pay a base rate of $55,000, increasing $7,000 per year until year 11, when the base rate reaches $125,000. After that, increases would be based in the rate of inflation.

The Town is proposing to build a new community safety building on the site.

The Town and Society met to address concerns raised by the District of North Saanich and residents over language in an April 6 Supreme Court decision.

That language indicated both the court and AG’s office had reservations about the proposed lease and how it relates to a Trust document.

The Society, through the court, sought to alter the Trust document, allowing the lease to take place.

Now, Sidney is waiting for formal, written approval from the AG’s office.

On Monday, May 9, council approved the signing of the lease with the Society — but only after getting a letter from the AG’s office.

“We met with the (Assistant Deputy) Attorney General and asked for a letter stating that the lease is in accordance … and we will not execute the lease until that letter is received,” said Chief Administrative Officer Randy Humble.

Councillor Peter Wainwright had asked Humble to confirm this confirmation was in the works and that the lease was in accordance with the Trust.

At issue was if the Town’s proposed lease for it’s community safety building met the Trust document’s stipulation that uses of the land be for the benefit of the residents of Sidney and North Saanich.

“The Town met with the Attorney General and presented the lease terms,” added Mayor Steve Price. “They showed how residents will get to use the site … their reaction appeared positive.”

Society President Richard Paquette has stated that they would not pursue a lease that did not meet the stipulations of the Trust document.

The Supreme Court did, however, agree to some changes to that document, allowing such leases to occur and to limit the power of residents to call for early reviews or cancellations of any leases.

The use of the land will be for the proposed community safety building, as well as other uses: fire hall, emergency operations centre; ambulance station; fire hall museum; public assembly space; community function space, and more.

As part of the lease, the Town will be responsible for paving the parking lot next to the site.

Should any contaminants be found on the site, Sidney would be responsible for clean up.

With the lease nearly in place, Sidney has also been able to continue with negotiations with the B.C. Ambulance Service.

The Town is hoping they will enter into a sublease with them, for a purpose-build addition to the facility to house local paramedics.