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Businesses, governments talk future of Keating

Central Saanich big box plans will likely be focus of future task group

Focused on Keating, a meeting of minds included more than 25 employers from the area, and municipal and provincial representatives last Thursday.

“I thought it was a very positive and good meeting,” said Murray Coell, MLA for Saanich North and the Islands. “I think they’re going to get some good feedback on what the municipality and the province can do to help in the future. ”

It was promising to see the cross-section of business owners, landlords, employers and even a couple of residents and representatives from the Peninsula Chamber of Commerce, said Coun. Carl Jensen.

The question of a business case for Keating access from Highway 17 – an ongoing part of the revitalization discussion – was a chicken-and-egg conversation.

“Some are of the belief that we need to grow the business park, because then we’re going to create the congestion and catch the province’s awareness,” Jensen said. “I think there’s a compelling business case right now for the overpass for the safety of the people that are already out there.

“What that will then do is help with some of the broadening of the business we bring to Keating.”

The goal was to create a focus type group that could back the district, and vice versa, to help create a vibrant business core. The meeting provided plenty of business folk, who showed interest.

“Now we’re looking to cut the group down to a working group,” Jensen said. “One of the things we want to do, and Mayor [Alastair] Bryson stressed, we want them involved because they’re going to help us shape the solution. We had the experts in the room. … This is their livelihood, these people are good at it.”

The next step is creating a group with a goal of envisioning Keating in 2020 or 2030.

“We believe that the vision is there, but what we want to do is look at how we can better communicate that to the residents and the business community,” Jensen said. “We need to market ourselves, identify what makes Central Saanich a great place to work. It’s a focus for this council.”