Central Saanich business zone seeking change

Central Saanich business analysis looking at local needs along Keating Cross Road.

Senior Associate with Stantec Consulting Mark Crisp provided an update to the District of Central Saanich recently on the Keating Business Corridor Analysis. He provided them with the feedback from respondents to a survey, along with the current project status and next steps.

Crisp said Stantec is currently at stage three of the project — the Co-create stage. In that, they are looking at different building scenarios based on what’s possible within the study area of the Keating Industrial Area.

There are 17 fundamental principles in the District of Central Saanich’s Official Community Plan (OCP). Those help keep focus on how the priorities coming out of a business plan being — developed as part of the Keating Business Corridor Analysis — will connect with the OCP.

Respondents indicated there a few main areas of focus in relation to the current OCP principles: supporting economic development; supporting agriculture, and; providing a range of housing opportunities, to name a few.

A community open house, stakeholder workshop and individual meetings have all been held to begin getting feedback and comments on the corridor.

“One of the things we did ask as well was the idea of how the OCP fits in with this whole process and fundamentally what those principles are and how we would use them,” Crisp said during his presentation to council on April 18.

With almost 30 surveys returned so far, input from the community at large is among the next steps. Residents will be able to give their input at the end of May.

Crisp said when respondents were asked what they felt would help generate more business in the Keating Business Corridor, they indicated their top five.

The first was better highway access, followed by more businesses, tax incentives/benefits, improved transit and improved walkability.

Some of the other input received online suggested a need to fill business vacancies, beautify the area, improve the transportation system for all including bikes and provide more residential housing.

Crisp said from the feedback from the business survey, a strong majority of respondents think the current Highway 17 access to the area is not sufficient and that improvements could help their businesses significantly.

As a result, the respondents’ top priority for change — and their top current constraint — is transportation access.

Crisp also mentioned some of the advantages and disadvantages of the Keating area.

Advantages, he said, include the fact that it’s a central area, close to the airport and ferries, there are larger properties and its close to similar business, which is convenient for customers.

Some of the disadvantages he mentioned are poor transit access, housing costs for employees, lack of parking and access, and more.

The final report and presentation will come back to District council at a later time.