Mayor revisits retail

Larry Cross forms task force to explore upgrading downtown Sidney

Downtown Sidney will be the focus of a new task force established by Mayor Larry Cross following weeks of concern expressed over the future of the community’s retail core.

On April 7, after repeated calls to do so by a local retail marketing consultant, Cross announced a Mayor’s Downtown Revitalization Task Force. Its focus will be on “the short and long-term opportunities and challenges to Sidney’s unique business district.” In a media release on Monday, Cross stated that the main goal of the task force is “to develop an overall strategy and a series of achievable actions that will accelerate the economic development of Sidney.”

The announcement came after Cross had, two weeks ago, stated that any such action would have to be led by the business community.

“While Mayor Cross and Council may see value in the development of such a plan, from Council’s perspective, it should be led by business leaders within the community and not be directed by the Town,” stated a March 24 media release.

Retail consultant Richard Talbot said the latest comments from the mayor amount to a flip flop.

“It’s a total reversal of the mayor’s position last week when he wanted the business community to lead it,” said Talbot Monday.

Cross rejects that charge, saying he was looking for solid support from the business community before establishing the task force.

Cross told the PNR Monday he has not changed his mind about the task force, but had been waiting for buy-in — something he says he received from the Sidney Business Improvement Area (SBIA).

“I have been involved in organizations like this all of my career and you need the buy-in,” Cross said. “This has been coming for a long time and it’s a confirmation of (the Town’s) groundwork.”

Cross added he is fine with taking on a leadership role, but he did not want to do it alone. Already, he continued, response has been good and he said he expects the task force could be filled out by week’s end.

“We have to position the Town for the future. “It’s a moment of change and it’s time has come.”

Talbot had been calling on the mayor to lead since he began speaking with the Town weeks ago. He has outlined the challenges that could be faced by business once commercial developments in Central and North Saanich are built. With the Jesken Town Centre and Sandown Commons in the works, Talbot has stated Sidney retailers could stand to lose a significant percentage of their business, unless the community can find a way to revitalize the downtown.

Talbot said Cross’ announcement this week is a step in the right direction.

“The bottom line is there needs to be a partnership between the community and business owners who want to lead local change. Then, you have to have the political will to carry it out.”

A search for those leaders is the focus of a forum tonight (Wed., April 9) at 6 p.m. at the Mary Winspear Centre. Steve Duck of the TIDES Group and the Sidney Tourism Improvement Group (STIG) are bringing Talbot back to the stage for the general public and business owners. Duck said the goal is to find people interested in taking on the issue.

“The community still needs to hear what business owners concerns are regarding these threats,” Duck said.

He said it’s important for residents to become interested because many business owners are too busy keeping their doors open.

“Sidney has to find a way to be prepared for (Jesken and Sandown),” Duck continued, adding he is thankful the mayor has picked up the baton to lead a task force forward.

“I hope there is collaboration. I don’t want there to be separate entities. The challenge is having the willingness to collaborate.”

The SBIA expressed full support for the task force in Monday’s media release. Chair Cliff McNeil-Smith, stated “together we can continue to tackle challenges and pursue the opportunities before us.”

Terms of reference for the new task force are in the works. Members will include downtown property owners, business owners, community leaders, residents, the non-profit sector and council members.

 

editor@peninsulanewsreview.com

 

 

Just Posted

Fire-ravaged North Saanich restaurant not likely to re-open until spring

Voicemail greeting from owner of Deep Cove Chalet thanks those who have reached out after Oct. 28 kitchen fire

Extreme case of poop-throwing gives Victoria bike community a bad name

Car centric roads and infrastructure invite cyclist-motorist incidents, says cycling coalition

ICBC warns shoppers of the high-accident season at mall parking lots

Over 150,000 accidents happened during the holiday season last year

Woman thrown from mobility scooter in downtown Sidney collision

Pickup truck attempting a right turn struck woman in crosswalk

Greater Victoria hotels named best in Canada

Beacon Inn at Sidney ranks third in 3-star category, Magnolia and Abigail’s also named

VIDEO: Two officers of B.C. Legislature escorted out amid investigation

Clerk of the House Craig James, Sergeant-at-arms Gary Lenz on administrative leave

Good Food Summit plants seeds for food security

The Good Food Summit runs Nov. 22 and 23

Awards will recognize business excellence on Vancouver Island

Nomination period begins for Vancouver Island Business Excellence Awards

Shirtless stranger loomed over couch and started stabbing, bloody B.C. murder trial hears

Colin John pleads not guilty as trial opens in 2016 Chemainus murder case

Late 2019 too long to wait for ridesharing: B.C. Conservatives

“While the rest of the world is embracing this transportation revolution, B.C. is only now staggering slowly toward legislation on a business model that’s been mainstreamed for over a decade in other jurisdictions.”

Police aim to prevent retaliation after Hells Angel found dead under B.C. bridge

IHIT confirms Chad Wilson, 43, was the victim of a ‘targeted’ homicide

Students protest Starbucks’ supplanting local coffee at UVic

The Finnerty Express’s and their Salt Spring Island coffee supplanted by Fall 2019

No deal in sight: Canada Post warns of delivery delays into January

Union holds fifth week of rotating strikes as both sides remain apart on contract negotiations

COLUMN: Higher interest rates will slow B.C. economy after ‘unusually robust’ show

Jock Finlayson is executive vice president and chief policy officer of the Business Council of BC

Most Read