Plans for the Sidney Crossing commercial development are now with the Town of Sidney for review.
The development permit application documents from Omicron Developments Ltd. were forwarded Oct. 18 to the Town from the Victoria Airport Authority (VAA). Under an agreement between the municipality and the VAA, Sidney has 40 days after receiving the documents to review them. The documents can be seen on the Town’s website.
In this review, according to the Town, they will identify any possible impacts on municipal infrastructure, comment on the compatibility of the proposed project with the rest of the community and make other comments as appropriate. Municipal staff are expected to review the documents and make a report to council within those 40 days.
It’s at this stage where people who have been interested in this project hope to provide feedback.
However, according to Sidney’s Chief Administrative Officer Randy Humble, there are no plans to hold specific public meetings on Sidney Crossing.
“The Town has no plans to hold a public event for the community to view the DP (development permit) referral, since this application has been made to the VAA and not the Town,” Humble stated in an email to the News Review. “Our process is consistent with previous DP referrals from the VAA.”
Once staff have made a presentation to council, any comments will go directly to the VAA.
The last opportunity for public feedback on the approximately 100,000 square foot development – at a municipal level – was a public hearing at the SHOAL Centre in September 2016. At that time, the Town was considering changing the zoning on a peice of land connected to the site, to align zoning with the federal government.
More than 400 people turned out to that meeting and most speakers opposed the project, citing its potential negative impact on businesses in Sidney’s main downtown core. The land was eventually rezoned.
The project itself is not within the Town of Sidney’s approval jurisdiction. The Crossing (or Sidney Gateway is it was once known) would be built on 10 acres of VAA-controlled property at the corner of Beacon Avenue and the Pat Bay Highway — across from the Mary Winspear Centre. Omicron is dealing with the VAA directly, after the airport authority offered the land up for development opportunities in 2015.
The VAA committed to a more public process, asking the Agricultural Land Commission to remove farmland from the Agricultural Land Reserve and working with the Town. As the airport property is federal land, such steps are not required.
The VAA has held public meetings on the project on at least two occasions.
The issue of a development this large has sparked divisions among some residents in Sidney and also led to some disputes between Sidney and the District of North Saanich, which has a competing commercial development project in the works at the former Sandown horse racing track.
There have been petitions against both developments and much discussion over the various plans and studies done on both traffic and retail impacts.
James Bogusz, the VAA’s Vice-President of Operations and Development, says the overall Crossing plans are not substantially different than what has been made public so far.
The current plan document offers more details on site layout, road alignment, landscaping and more. There are nine buildings proposed, yet the application does not shed new light on the possible tenants for the shopping area.
Omicron’s representative Peter Laughlin has stated the site will be anchored by a grocery chain and include medical offices, an appliance and/or drug store, financial institution and various restaurants.
Omicron has also agreed to pay for a pedestrian overpass to help alleviate any traffic pressures caused by the new development on people walking from West Sidney across the highway into the town proper.
The Town of Sidney is expected to discuss the plans at an upcoming meeting of council.