Much has been said lately both against and for the proposed Gateway project at Beacon and the highway. Most of the arguments against are familiar to many residents that have lived in Sidney for years.
People I have spoken to who are in favour, live on the west side of the highway and are simply looking for a more convenient way to support local business, not a way to avoid it.
This leads us to the argument that ‘downtown’ businesses will suffer with the development of Gateway. It could set a new standard for retail outlets in Sicney, with value for retailers and parking for customers. I would suggest many businesses locally fail because of excessive rents, flawed visions and the absence of a well-thought-out business plan — not because an alternative is drawing customers elsewhere. Some local businesses (and we all know who they are) provide a needed service, at a reasonable cost, with a knowledgable staff and lastly, they are as connected to the community as they expect the community to them. Local business can thrive, competition is a motivator, not a deterrent.
Some letters to the editor stated the development will cause traffic issues of an insurmountable scale. This is simply not true. No extra patrons will come from outside the district as would have been the case had Costco been constructed on the west side of Sidney. Most traffic will be east-west, not north-south and as a result will minimally impact Highway 17. In any case, the Town has already indicated relevant traffic studies should be undertaken to confirm any problems.
I was disturbed to see input from residents of North Saanich on issues like ALC exemptions and various other problems with the project. Not one square inch of the property is in North Saanich. While they should be polite while doing so, it is my hope that Sidney council or the ALC do not pay a great deal of attention to these people. They should perhaps encourage them to offer input to projects in their own municipality.
One letter to the editor indicated the project could ‘displace’ a useful project that could appear in the future. While this could be said of any project, all one has to do is look at the location to determine the likelihood of it being used for the purposes the writer indicated. While I respect the opinion, I don’t think so.
I, and other neighbours I have spoken with, am in favour of the Gateway project. Unlike one letter writer who indicated she shops in Victoria, as Sidney businesses are often not competitive, we are all going to support businesses in Sidney that deserve our support. There are many of them.
Bob Jones, Sidney
(Bob Jones was a Sidney town councillor from 1987 to 2008)