The Peninsula Co-op has opened up its options.
It announced Thursday (July 21) it had come to an agreement with the Tsartlip First Nation to lease more than five acres of land at the corner of Gowdy Road and Stelly’s X Road in Central Saanich to build a grocery store, gas bar and retail centre.
“Our community has looked forward to having an economic venture there for many years,” said Tsartlip Chief Wayne Morris. “We canvassed our people and checked to find out what they want. What we asked for is exactly what we’ve agreed to (with the Co-op), a food store and gas bar. I feel we’ve achieved what the community asked for.”
Morris said the Tsartlip First Nation community has been working on the development project for more than two years. The interim agreement signed between the Peninsula Co-op board and the Tsartlip will have to be ratified by a referendum at Tsartlip that should be held in early October.
“The agreement allows us to fulfill the commitment made to all of our members that we will make every effort to locate our new food market and head office in Central Saanich where we began 35 years ago and have a substantial customer and employment base.” said Ron Gaudet, president of the Co-op’s board of directors.
The Co-op has been working with the District of Central Saanich to build its new store on West Saanich Road near Keating X Road. Because that land is outside of the district’s urban containment boundary, the application must go to the Capital Regional District Board for approval.
“We have been very concerned with the way things were going (with the application) and the determination of those who are opposed to it,” said Co-op board vice president, Gordon Denford. He said the board believed it would have to move the store and Co-op headquarters out of the area entirely. “We were prepared to go to the Western Communities, but the board was not happy about it, I was not happy about it. Then the opportunity arose to join the Tsartlip and to negotiate an agreement to build a new store along with auxiliary rental units and a gas bar — it’s quite a substantial investment,” he said.
“To us it’s not only financially good, but it means we are moving forward, benefiting our community by way of employment and having a service station there. Not only for ourselves, but for the whole community of Central Saanich,” said Morris. “Because Co-op is so big, with so many members it will be a benefit to everybody.”
The Co-op will continue with its application for development on West Saanich Road until the Tsartlip referendum is held. “If the referendum passes, that’s where we’ll build the store and gas bar,” said Denford.