Transportation and access from the highway to Keating Cross Road were the common issues shared amongst business and property owners, stakeholders and the public at the second open house for the planned Keating Business Corridor.
Senior Associate with Stantec Consulting Ltd. Mark Crisp provided an update to the public on the company’s recent work for the District of Central Saanich.
He discussed the potential growth that Keating Business District could see over a 25-year span, which could see the creation of over 3,000 jobs.
But according to some at the meeting on Tuesday evening, the whole project should be put on hold or just turfed, after transportation and access issues are handled first.
“It comes down to, we’re paying big taxes and we expect a little from our taxes like a proper entry from the Pat Bay Highway,” said Frank White, a business owner in the industrial park.
White, who has been in the area for over 25 years, said the highway access has been talked about all the time, but it never happens.
“Money should be going to that first, before anything else,” he said.
White said there is no need to market the areas in the Keating industrial area as owners of those properties will market it themselves, and it will sell when it needs to sell.
“Just define the industrial park, put some more money aside, get some proper transportation in there and pretty it up, and leave us alone,” he said.
Another resident, who lives near the southern area of Keating, said until access is properly built for the area, the talk on the Keating corridor should just go away and be rethought as it won’t work.
Pam Harrison, who lives in Saanich, said that Old West Saanich, which leads to Oldfield, is sometimes at capacity, with little or no enforcement.
“I fear that we are looking at enhancing an economic district at the expense of the rural nature of the community that we also apparently value…” she said.
She said right now the traffic situation in getting up to Keating has not been dealt with.
“I find it very distressing to think of increasing the economic development on Keating,” she said.
Among the concerned residents and business owners were a few councillors from Central Saanich.
Councillor Niall Paltiel said that they can all agree that transportation and access issues are important and of concern to Keating, but believes that growth in the Keating area is a good way to express those concerns.
“The only way we’re going to see regional access and regional transportation improving is by having these discussions and indicating that we want to find ways to increase jobs and affordable housing on the Peninsula, specifically around the Keating area,” he said.
He said one of the challenges with access is that it can be a chicken or egg situation.
“Right now, Central Saanich, out of the entire CRD, is one of the worst CO2 emitters due to transportation,” he said.
He said they have to hope that vehicles and other means of transport are going to reduce CO2 emissions in the future, whether it’s light rail or more buses in the future.
“So really, I think that this is a first step towards increasing some of that growth as stated in the Official Community Plan (OCP), so that in the future we can actually advocate for those changes.”
Stantec will begin work on a business case and implementation recommendations based on the information they’ve received so far. That is expected before council in mid-November.
There is a survey online at centralsaanich.ca.