Concerned Citizens of the Saanich Peninsula would like to provide an update on the Sandown proposal and to say “thank you” if you are one of the nearly 1,000 people who have already signed the petition. We would also like to extend our appreciation to the businesses carrying the petition, and those who have submitted letters to North Saanich council. It is clear the public has been expecting a small Mattick’s Farm style development, not a large shopping centre with box stores.
The Agricultural Land Commission has not issued final approval for the Sandown land yet, therefore all 95 acres remain in the ALR today, and the land transfer has not taken place. Despite this, the commercial proposal for the 12 acres continues to move forward.
The District of North Saanich has received its first application from a Canadian Tire store for a portion of the commercial land. Canadian Tire is as a large, strong mid box retailer. Such a store would have a negative impact on Sidney as well as the rural agricultural community of North Saanich.
The Sandown bylaw allows up to a minimum of 209,088 sq. feet which is more than double the size of the Gateway proposal. It also does not limit the number of box stores, it allows more than a single storey and does not prohibit under-ground, multi-level or roof top parking. The bylaw does not reflect a Mattick’s Farm style development.
The North Saanich Residents Association posted a summary of the Sept. 19 council meeting and quoted Mayor Finall saying the original vision was a Mattick’s Farm style project – five years ago and a different developer.
Not only has the vision for the commercial development changed, in addition there is no covenant “in perpetuity” to protect the agricultural land for agricultural use only, or a requirement for an agreement to fund improvements to that land. These retractions will leave the land vulnerable to development by any future council.
Many people are still unaware, yet this will affect the rural quality of life for North Saanich, it will impact farms and the many businesses in North Saanich and in neighbouring communities who are already struggling. There has never been an economic study, nor a recent traffic study.
Concerned Citizens of the Saanich Peninsula believe that residents must be given an opportunity to have a voice in the future direction of their community. The only way to do this is by a referendum.
We hope citizens will take a few minutes to write to North Saanich Council to express their views. Letters can be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org, and to email@example.com.
Petitions can be found in local businesses. Since this issue reaches beyond North Saanich anyone is welcome to sign.