Three unattractive options for Tsawout road access face Central Saanich

Access to Jesken Town Centre in Central Saanich could be achieved in three ways; council dislikes Ministry of Transportation's first choice

Access options for a proposed development at Tsawout are raising red flags in Central Saanich.

The proposed Jesken Town Centre is 650,000 square feet of new outdoor retail on 70 acres of Tsawout land near Highway 17 and Jus Kun Road with two or three large retailers, four or five mid-sized retailers and opportunities for smaller businesses and restaurants.

After a meeting last Friday between Development Property Group, Tsawout, Ministry of Transportation and District of Central Saanich staff, chief administrative officer Gary Nason reported back to council with three highway access options being perused for the proposed centre.

There are three options being looked at, Nason told council during the planning and development committee meeting on Monday night, Feb. 13.

Option one would be a standalone interchange on Tsawout land with no connections to the district road network. The second includes connections to Central Saanich Road with no changes to Island View or Mount Newton X roads. The third option concerns council most, with Island View Road lights removed and replaced by an interchange at Jus Kun Road. Island View would still have a right-in southbound and a half signal would be installed at East Saanich Road and the highway for southbound traffic, triggered by the length of the stacking cue to turn left onto Keating X Road and improvements to Puckle Road.

“Clearly there would be significant implications to each of these options,” Nason told council.

Option three appears to be the Ministry of Transportation’s favourite, he told council, as the ministry could provide some financial support because it could show efficiencies or improvements to Highway 17. The ministry is updating the Highway 17 corridor strategy covering the stretch from Swartz Bay to McKenzie Avenue.

“I’m concerned with the compressed time frame and process that was suggested at the meeting,” said Mayor Alastair Bryson. “This is a significant opportunity for constructive dialogue in our entire community.”

He cited “significant concerns” over the implications of options two and three.

“Clearly option one is outside of our jurisdiction” he said.

None of the options address the intersection of Keating X Road and Highway 17, the intersection that the district has identified top priority for upgrades.

“The district has been an active participant for many years, probably 15 or so, in terms of the Highway 17 strategy. … It’s been a long process that reflects the gradual changes that have taken place on the highway and I guess we’ve invested a significant amount of energy in the process,” Bryson said.

Coun. Terry Siklenka noted that disconnect of the wishes for the community.

“We’ve been asking for it and they really haven’t addressed it in any of this,” Siklenka said. “Doing this I feel will just delay … what the community has been asking for for a decade or more.”

Coun. Cathie Ounsted said it’s important to balance the needs for the Keating X Road area before council concedes to “do anything that would shoot ourselves in the foot.”

“We can’t sacrifice our own needs for the needs at Tsawout,” she said.

Coun. Carl Jensen pointed out that Island View is a link to the district’s truck route.

“I appreciate that they have come to the table with something. My issue is that the expense of what they are asking is too much. … Island View is critical,” said Jensen. “I find the solution quite intriguing, it’s something I didn’t know was an option. … I’m not willing to sacrifice the Island View intersection for it.”

Coun. John Garrison said the district should point out that option three is a “non-starter.”

“There really is no benefit to Central Saanich by approving these options. … There doesn’t seem to be a quid pro quo,” said Garrison. “The issue appears to be … that there’s a real push to get this done right away.”

Council decided to have a staff arrange a meeting with Tsawout and communicate concerns around time frame, options and process. Siklenka, Bryson and possibly Coun. Adam Olsen will attend a meeting later this month.