Plans for the Sidney Gateway commercial development are not expected to change, says the president and chief executive officer of the Victoria Airport Authority.
Geoff Dickson addressed the project during Tuesday night’s Airport Consultative Committee meeting. Held by the Victoria Airport Authority’s board of directors, the session updated the community on the activities and financial status of the VAA. Board Chair James Crowley pointed out the meeting was not about the Gateway project specifically, despite assertions made by some in the community prior to the meeting that it was.
However, the status of Gateway did come up, both by the VAA itself and by people in the audience at the Mary Winspear Centre.
Crowley noted the board has been receiving correspondence about Gateway. He said, however, they are a policy and governance board and have little to do with the operations of the airport, which is left to their management team.
Dickson said the VAA went through two levels of regulatory processes — Agricultural Land Commission and Town of Sidney — to clear the way for commercial development. Now, the company working on the Gateway project itself — Omicron Developments — has between 60 and 90 days to submit plans to the VAA. He said those plans are not likely to stray from what the public has already seen.
Once they have received those plans, Dickson said under an agreement with the Town, Sidney will be given 40 days to review it and make comments.
“It’s still many months away,” Dickson said, indicating that more clear direction on Gateway could come by the spring of 2017.
Dickson outlined a lot of the background to Gateway’s genesis, emphasizing that the VAA is only the landlord in this case. They signed an agreement with Omicron back in 2015 to come up with a project that could be built on the 10 acres at the corner of Beacon Avenue and the Pat Bay Highway. Prior to that, VAA had held meetings on land use issues. Omicron has proposed an approximately 100,000 square foot commercial site with tenants ranging from a grocery store and drug and appliance outlet, to medical offices, fitness facility and multiple restaurants.
Dickson said that the debate ever since has had some thoughtful concerns expressed over Gateway look and potential impact on downtown Sidney. It’s also been subject of misinformation, specifically about safety concerns and impacts on traffic.
From the audience during a Q&A session, Adrian Kershaw asked the VAA to change those plans.
“It’ll hollow out downtown Sidney,” he said, only one of two people who wanted to talk about Gateway.
James Findlay added he thought the site would be better suited to an interpretive centre. Dickson said he was willing to talk about the idea, perhaps for another site on VAA property.
(Editor’s note: Early process date corrected to 2015 (from an incorrect 2014) as well as the correct spelling of Adrian Kershaw’s first name.)