LETTERS: Retail needs a plan

The Mayor and the CEO, behind the scenes, need to undertake concrete strategies.

While I applaud the Sidney Town Council priority to create more affordable residential spaces for working families, the immediate and future needs of restoring a healthy retail business engine and mix for the community remains largely unaddressed.

The stark reality is that the Uptown and Mayfair malls are Sidney’s most immediate competitors, along with an aggressive business minded West Shore retail community. There needs to be some immediate, decisive and clearly delineating moves that create a noticeable difference for the consumer. Where is the awareness of the kind of retail and service mix that young growing families are looking for?

The alignment of the Council with the Victoria Airport Authoritiy’s priority for additional revenue with the development of the property at the junction of Highway 17 and Beacon Avenue, along with possible independent ventures in the North Saanich and First Nations jurisdictions, will create additional pressures on an already stressed Sidney retail sector.

Where is the thought and planning of policies and incentives that will need to be in place to attract such ventures to Sidney?

The CEO of the town should begin by conducting exit interviews with the business ventures that have left Sidney in the last four to five years. Identifying the underlying reasons for the retail vacancy rates in Sidney ought to assist in remedying some of the policies responsible for outflow of business interests.

The Council should pay attention to the planning resources and perspectives that it has access to within its own ratepayers for sound economic planning strategies and economic analyses of Sidney’s competitive position. It should then contract, not bring on staff, an aggressive economic development officer, empowered to attract suitable business interests.

The Mayor and the CEO, behind the scenes, need to undertake concrete strategies to bring landlords alongside of an insightful economic development plan, which can only be in the interests of local and absentee landlords.

Garry Froese, Central Saanich