I thought I might throw my experiences into the pot when it comes to Gateway.
Chemainus, as most know, is a town of 4500 folks with a main drag three blocks long.
Ever since 2007, the recurring theme was how to retain viability in the core of the town. The murals are not the draw they once were and the theatre crowds don’t shop in town. The constant discussion was how to fill the perpetual three or four empty storefronts.
Businesses would start up and die only to be replaced with another victim. Recently Chemainus Foods, the anchor store on the street, closed up shop after decades in town. The local stores cannot compete effectively with the stores in Duncan and the population growth has slowed in recent years.
Sidney has some of these characteristics now. What will Beacon Avenue look like three years after this Gateway project is completed. I hate to think.
Sidney has a population capable of supporting a viable downtown in the eight blocks of Beacon Avenue and side streets. More incentives to shop need to be offered. Pricing has to compete.
Rather than being party to yet another monstrosity shopping mall, the Town and North Saanich should be focused on supporting downtown local merchants, encouraging landlords to spruce up their buildings, provide tax incentives and developing a business climate that will keep Sidney viable. If they don’t Sidney will become a seedy ghost of its former self once this monster is launched.
Alex Currie, North Saanich