An appeal of land removed from B.C.’s Agricultural Land Reserve (ALR) to make way for the proposed Sidney Gateway retail center, has been rejected by the body that oversees the ALR.
In a decision emailed to the appellant today (Aug. 4, 2016), North Saanich resident Springfield Harrison, the Agricultural Land Commission (ALC) dismissed his request for reconsideration. That decision can be read here and here.
On January 11 of this year, the ALC excluded from the ALR a 4.4 hectare parcel at the east end of the Victoria International Airport, bordering Beacon Avenue. The Victoria Airport Authority (VAA) asked for the exclusion in order to pursue development of the site. Currently, the land is being eyed for a 100,000 square-foot commercial and retail center known as the Sidney Gateway.
Harrison appealed that decision, stating in Feburary that the VAA — and therefore the ALC — used erroneous information on which to base the decision.
“(The ALC) gave two reasons for its decision, proximity to industrial land and proximity to aviation areas,” he said at the time. “But none of those things are accurate, or pertinent.”
Harrison asserted that the property is sufficiently far enough away from either of those areas, adding even if the space was surrounded by industrial land, it would still be viable as farm land.
In its reply to Harrison’s reconsideration request, the ALC said their executive committee found that Harrison’s submission did not constitue new evidence, or information that the ALC didn’t have at the time. The ALC concluded “that the request for reconsideration did not meet the requirements for reconsideration …”
Harrison had also suggested ALC Chair Frank Leonard was in a potential conflict of interest, as he also sits as a director of the VAA. The ALC replied that Leonard took all steps necessary to ensure that such a conflict did not exist.
The decision means the ALC’s original land exclusion stands.
The VAA and Omicron Developments are before the Town of Sidney, seeking a rezoning of the land in question. They are hoping to rezone it to commercial for the existing residential status. In so doing, Omircon has presented Sidney with its plans for the retail center and the municipality, in turn, has asked for additional amenities, such as better pedestrian and traffic access at the Beacon Avenue and Pat Bay Highway intersection.
Omicron is scheduled to present updated site plans to the Town on August 22 at Sidney municipal hall.
A public hearing on the rezoning request will take place September 12, 7 p.m at the SHOAL Center on Resthaven Drive.