Few would argue that the character of Sidney has changed significantly over the last several years. As an individual who chose to move to Sidney because of its special character, I am deeply concerned the critical balance between old and new, historical and modern, is quickly becoming unbalanced. The most concerning aspect that I see is the decreasing voice that local residents have in determining the future of our community.
Opening Sidney to unchecked development is tantamount to inviting hunting in a wildlife preserve. When little wildlife remains, it is too late to sound the alarm. Granting leases to developers for our most precious assets, like the Sidney waterfront, remove the control of local residents to guide the shape of their community. Climate change has demonstrated the critical importance of being able to react quickly to unforeseen challenges. Granting leases to private concerns, some spanning a half-century, ties the hands of residents to make decisions in their best interest. Our elected officials should be reminded immediately that Sidney residents will not relinquish control of its destiny.
Elected officials have suggested the premature death of Sidney’s most important icon, the Beacon Wharf and Fish Market. We taxpayers have already paid for repairs to the wharf that will extend its useful life until 2028. It would not require a tremendous amount of money to remodel the fish market with new sheet metal and paint, which would easily last for the remaining life of the wharf. That would give the residents of Sidney another seven years to raise funds for a more permanent refurbishment of the wharf. Many of us, including myself, would happily donate to the cause to preserve one of the last remaining icons of Sidney. We would have time to explore the possibilities of provincial and federal funds available to assist in the restoration of such an important landmark.
I call on the residents of Sidney, North Saanich and all concerned parties to ensure that the remaining elements that make Sidney so special are not sold out from under us. Please make your concerns known to the mayor and council of the Town of Sidney.