Sidney to take land proposal public

Residents want financial details on the table at March 19 open house

Concerned residents are questioning whether the Town of Sidney should proceed with the potential rezoning of waterfront land before all of the details of a proposed land swap with a developer are worked out.

Most of the opposition to the plan for the Seaport East Lands, north of the Sidney Pier Hotel on First Street, centers around what some are calling a bad financial deal for the town.

The municipality signed a memorandum of understanding with Sidney Waterfront Partnership (SWP) in October, 2013 to explore redeveloping the site. SWP currently has a 40-year lease on the town-owned property and owns the Pier Hotel next door.

The agreement had been made in camera over the course of a year and was released to the public in November. The memorandum outlines the potential for SWP to obtain the land through a combination of cash, contribution of services or improvements or “development-related obligations or commitments, having a value equal to or greater than the market value of the Town owned (leased properties).” Part of the preliminary discussions include the Town keeping a strip of land on the waterfront edge of the property to be used as an extension of Beacon Park. SWP would be responsible for landscaping and improvement costs of around $250,000.

Sidney’s Chief Administrative Officer Randy Humble says the parties do not have any financial deal in place at this time, despite people’s calls for the Town to put all details on the table.

“It’s a bad deal for Sidney,” said David Bryson at the Feb. 24 council meeting. “This land is a valuable Town asset and should see some value for the Town.”

SWP is proposing to tear down the Captain’s Table building, replacing it with up to three, two-storey structures with commercial and residential components. SWP would also renovate the exterior of the Rumrunner Pub building and pay to upgrade roads, parking areas and sidewalks.

Bryson said he is concerned any financial details involved have not been made public.

“We’re in a rezoning process right now,” countered Mayor Larry Cross. “It’s a complex rezoning. And one appraisal has been done so far.”

The appraisal, completed by Cunningham and Rivard Appraisals Ltd. and paid for by both the Town and SWP, has placed the value of the land at $4.38 million. Humble said that appraisal took into account the 40-year lease, a covenant on the property limiting building height to two storeys and some fill at the north end of the property that could affect construction.

“The current value of the Town’s interest in the land has been appraised at $1.732 million and SWP’s at $2.648 million,” Humble stated in an email to the News Review.

Both Humble and Cross have given the News Review detailed answers to questions posed about the Seaport East Lands proposal, from long-term lease details and land values to potential benefits for Sidney. The News Review will be writing about the plan in upcoming editions.

“I’m concerned the land transfer would only leave the Town with a small portion of the land,” added Maggie Warkentin, adding she isn’t concerned about the rezoning — only the land transfer and financial details.

Cross said the terms of any agreement would be made public.

Jack Barker said with all the uncertainty in the plan so far, the details of the land transfer should be worked out prior to any rezoning of the property.

“You are the guardians of our waterfront, of the town’s property,” he told council. “So far, you’ve done good job, but I ask you to think twice about this proposal.”

Gary Anderson urged council to hold a town hall meeting on the financial details.

Council has voted unanimously (with the exception of Kenny Podmore, who excused himself due to a conflict of interest) to hold an open house on March 19 at the Mary Winspear Centre.

Coun. Tim Chad asked that staff include as much of the financial details as possible in that public meeting. Humble reiterated that staff isn’t there yet.

“No transaction is being considered,” he said, suggesting council can ask that another meeting be held once that issue comes up.

Cross agreed, asking that the appraisal details should be available on March 19.

 

Just Posted

Local cadets gain acceptance to RMC

Military careers one step closer

New Star Cinema project approved

Cameo development gets unanimous council thumbs up

Stelly’s sidewalk gets green light

Federal funding brings project to fruition

Witnesses sought for alleged drunk driver crash in Sidney

Crash happened June 16 on East Saanich Rd. and Canora Dr.

Fake crash warns students about real consequences

Saanich Peninsula emergency crews warn against distracted driving

Victoria Ska and Reggae Fest fills harbour with music

Music festival wraps with free party Sunday at Ship Point

5 fun things to do this weekend in Greater Victoria

Victoria Ska and Reggae Fest, Ride Don’t Hide, Cordova Bay Day and more

Jogger spent two weeks in U.S. detention centre after accidentally crossing B.C. border

Cedella Roman, 19, crossed the border while out for a run

B.C. woman with severely disabled son keeps getting parking tickets

‘There has to be something they could do’

Man brandishes axe during robbery

Mounties were able to locate the suspect within two hours of the incident

‘Creep off’ reporting system aims to track street harassment in Metro Vancouver

Text-based hotline launches to collect public reports on where and when harassment occurs

Happy ending for orphaned bear cubs

Two orphaned bear cubs were captured in Castlegar and sent for rehabilitation.

10 feet from home: B.C. grassfire offers stark reminder how quickly blazes burn

Kamloops woman among first people in B.C. to be told to evacuate home this wildfire season

B.C. man (pick up truck, Lucky Beer poster, and all) revels in return to Esquimalt

Rear-Admiral Bob Auchterlonie assumed command of the Maritime Forces Pacific

Most Read