As the municipal decision making process related to the VAA, Omicron and Gateway marches on, I think this is not in the best interests of the Town of Sidney.
The planning for an eventual solution to the interchange at Beacon and the Highway should be clearly identified to ensure sufficient land is set aside before any other consideration. This intersection improvement is needed now and, as further development occurs on the west side of the highway, the situation is going to become even more critical.
Any commercial development on the west side of the highway should be complementary to the main street and not in competition. The main street is neither robust enough nor insulated from the vagaries of the marketplace. There is plenty of evidence of this with the continuing vacancies in Sidney. Shopping centre growth in Greater Victoria and online has reached a new level of sophistication. A competing strip mall will cause further pressure on the existing commercial areas.
Allowing or encouraging competition from the VAA, a federal-funded public land enterprise, versus private sector taxpaying owners is simply unfair.
Whilst there is no need for another strip mall there is a clear and strong need for alternate complementary uses on the west side of town.
There are better uses including infant industry development that builds on the existing industry in areas such as software development, green technology, light manufacturing and aviation development. If this industry was encouraged, the west side could become a national hub for innovation and provide jobs for our Peninsula.
Beyond this obvious need and after creating a safe solution to the intersection, there are many other alternative better-suited uses for the Gateway site that would draw new people to our commercial core.
A retail strip-mall is not what is needed and I hope our elected officials provide the leadership that is needed in this issue.
Richard Holmes, North Saanich