(Updated Aug. 3 to correct attribution on public information details)
Sidney Crossing is back on the radar for the Victoria Airport Authority.
On Wednesday (August 2), James Bogusz Vice-President of the Development and Operations at the VAA, notified the News Review that Omicron Developments has made its official application for a development permit for the project.
The proposed commercial development on the Authority’s land at the corner of Beacon Avenue West and the Pat Bay Highway, has been the subject of much scrutiny since it was first announced in 2015.
“I just received it today,” Bogusz said of Omicron’s development application, “and I’m still going through it now.”
What is on the table is space just shy 100,000 square feet for a commercial and retail shopping area. It will include a grocery store, financial institution, restaurants, office space and other retail operations. Omicron has also agreed to pay for a new pedestrian overpass of the highway, as well as pay for various traffic improvements on Beacon and on the highway.
The details of which companies will become tenants at Sidney Crossing are not included in this latest application, according to Peter Laughlin of Omicron.
Bogusz said the plans submitted to the VAA (they were sent to the VAA on Friday, July 28, according to Omicron) appear to be the same as plans presented to the community at a public hearing held by the Town of Sidney. That hearing ended in the municipality’s approval of a land rezoning that helped pave the way for the development company to proceed to this latest phase.
The VAA has taken the extra step of working with the Town, despite the fact that it’s on federal land. They also went through the process of removing the land from the Agricultural Land Reserve even thought that too would normally not apply to federal property.
For the next 30 days, said Bogusz, the VAA’s planning consultants, Urban Systems, will review the application. Once they and the VAA are comfortable with it, Bogusz said it will be forwarded on to NAV Canada, the B.C. transportation ministry and the Town of Sidney, for review.
Under a previous agreement, the Town will have 40 days of their own to review Omicron’s application and plans for the site. Bogusz said once all the materials are submitted to the Town for their review process, he expects the application from Omicron will be available to the public on the Town of Sidney website.
Laughlin added that if there are to be any further public meetings on the project, those will fall to the Town of Sidney to provide.
Bogusz added all companies who apply to build commercial structures on VAA land go through a lot of scrutiny to ensure they meet the requirements of the airport and its operations. He anticipates this next process — including Sidney’s 40 days — to run between 90 and 120 days, giving all agencies involved time to review the plan before the next stage of approvals.
Omicron had initially said they’d have the application in to the VAA by last April or May. Laughlin said the pace of development right now in Greater Victoria contributed to the delay.
Laughlin added there are no fundamental changes to the plans people have already seen for Sidney Crossing. This application, he continued, provides more detail about the site. Planning for the overpass and traffic improvements, he said, were all worked out months ago and approved by the agencies involved.
Sidney Crossing — or Sidney Gateway as it was originally called — stirred up a lot of opposition in the community, both in Sidney and in North Saanich. Critics, some of whom have started petitions against it, have expressed concern that such a large commercial site could skeletonize the downtown shopping area of Sidney and that added traffic — potentially made worse by a proposed commercial site in North Saanich — could contribute to more crashes.