Sidney residents are feeling the pressure of a busy construction year and have been starting to push back against what they are calling rampant spot rezoning within the municipality.
The most recent example comes as a developer plans a four storey, 16-unit residential building on Fourth Street at Oakville Avenue.
Other projects include similar plans along Third Street across from the fire hall, the building going up at the corner of Fifth and Bevan and a planned First Street development along a narrow waterfront lot.
So far this year, the Town of Sidney has recorded more than $18.7 million in value in 168 new building permits, including $9.8 million represented in four new multi-family developments and $4.8 million in single family home permits. That’s compared with only $7.1 million in total building permits issued by the Town over the same period in 2014. (Note: this isn’t money being taken in by the Town, only the value of the projects represented in the building permits.)
This is both good news and bad news.
Since the Town has had a focus on increasing its residential density in recent years, the trend shows their policies have worked in attracting growth.
At the same time, the growth is having an impact on its neighbours. Apart from the typical complaints about loss of views and enjoyment of their own property as a result, there are some serious issues being raised about policy running roughshod over documents like the Official Community Plan.
For residents of North Saanich, this must sound familiar, as they too have waged battles over spot rezoning to accommodate projects that fall outside of current policies and regulations. Just on a different scale.
Sidney faces a test as its stated policy of densification is starting to grate on the nerves of some of its residents.
The outcome will almost certainly lie in how residents and their community leaders want to see their community take shape.
With this added development pressure potentially changing a significant portion of the community, perhaps it’s time to update the Town’s OCP.