There should be no reason not to trust either the Victoria Airport Authority or Omicron Developments that what they say will be developed at the corner of the Pat Bay Highway and Beacon Avenue, will be.
Since 2014, both have been clear about what is being proposed for that site and in essence, and little has changed.
Yet, there is wiggle room.
The Town of Sidney only voted on Monday night to rezone 10 acres of land — opening it up for a multitude of potential commercial uses, not just those proposed for the Gateway project.
Proponents of the “sky is falling” philosophy would have us believe that the Airport Authority could approve something completely different for the site, thereby making the entire hearing and public process to date, moot.
While that could technically happen, it’s extremely unlikely.
The Airport Authority undertook a process they didn’t have to (as federal land is outside the jurisdiction of both the Agricultural Land Reserve and the municipality). To turn around and do something else at this point would mean they wasted two years and a lot of money. That’s not likely something their board would look upon favourably.
And Omicron Developments won’t likely deviate from a site plan that was introduced in 2014 and has changed only a little since. Their track record of recent developments in the region — plus their plan to try to sign and announce tenants by this November, according to Omicron’s Peter Laughlin — hints strongly that what the public saw Monday night, is what they’ll get.
All of this makes it’s unlikely that Gateway as we know it will change.
The project is now out of the municipality’s hands, making it a unique situation for residents of Sidney. The Town still has input on the project, but the decisions now rest with the Airport Authority.
And with that, the Town still has a responsibility to its residents — to work with the Airport Authority and Omicron to ensure what is ultimately built is beneficial to the rest of the Town.
The Town and its council should not simply espouse the virtues of Gateway now that their rezoning is done, for it’s also not likely that they — like everyone else — know exactly what the outcome and the impact will be. Any praise for Gateway at this point, is still premature.