Highway 14 improvements between Connie and Glinz Lake roads will forever change the landscape of the Sooke area, and local businesses are looking at new opportunities.
The 17 Mile House Pub and AdrenaLine Zipline Adventures owners aim to build two buildings and other facilities on three hectares of land in the 5100-block of Sooke Road.
If approved, the two companies plan to start construction after highway work is complete in late 2022.
The company has applied to rezone 1.35 hectares of rural zoned land to general commercial to allow for the expansion. The 17 Mile House Pub and liquor store is unaffected by the proposed changes because it is not subject to zoning changes. The company is also seeking a variance permit to reduce the setback from a pond’s natural boundary to 10 metres from 30 metres.
A public hearing on the project is set for Feb. 8 at 7 p.m.
The two lots are north of the pub. They would allow AdrenaLine to relocate and continue operating and enable the owner to develop a small commercial development to complement the highway improvements.
AdrenaLine would lose two mainlines due to the highway configuration, but those lines would be replaced with two long lines further into the Sooke Hills. AdrenaLine’s offices would also move from its present headquarters beneath the liquor store to a new clubhouse.
There is also a plan to build a commercial outlet that fronts the new Sooke Road loop, likely including a small grocery store and a handful of other small businesses.
With the addition of the Gillespie Road interchange and a proper park and ride facility, Coun. Dana Lajeunesse said it makes sense to introduce a boutique-style commercial node to the area.
“As we are all too aware, we have experienced a lot of residential growth over the past several years with little in the way of commercial expansion. I see this as an opportunity to keep more of our hard-earned dollars circulating within the community,” Lajeunesse said.
Coun. Tony St-Pierre said he was impressed that the developers and municipal staff were considering elements such as daycare and staff housing in their proposal.
“This is a perfect place to have a drop off for kids while parents commute to work and affordable housing continues to be difficult for workers in the service industry. This development will be meeting at least some of the needs of Sooke’s future while helping the local economy,” he said.
Justin Wilson, representing the 17 Mile House Pub owners, said his family-owned business lost about 2.7 hectares of land for the realignment, mostly for highway right-of-way and a new 50-car park and ride.
“Originally, our thinking was just fix this road (Sooke Road),” Wilson said. “But this realignment has become much more than that.”
The provincial government first approached the Wilson family about obtaining land two years ago, after years of pleading with the Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure to fix the pub’s dangerous roadway.
Wilson said anything that would make the road safer appealed to the business owners, even though the project slices through the 48.5 hectares of family-owned property.
“As a landowner being impacted, you either just let it happen and do nothing, or you try and work with the ministry to be active in creating your solutions. So, we have taken that route. Otherwise would end up with land that is not really useful,” Wilson said.
“Overall, it’s a good thing, but there’s a lot of work for our family to keep up with the changes. It’s all positive, but it takes a bit of work to get there.”
DID YOU KNOW?
The Highway 14 improvements between Connie and Glinz Lake roads include:
• Crews will realign this section of the highway and widen it to four lanes.
• A median barrier will be installed along the highway between Manzer Road and the Neil Creek Bridge located on Connie Road.
• A new park and ride will be built at Highway 14 and Gillespie Road to make public transit through this corridor more efficient and convenient. It includes an interchange with a new connection to Connie Road, 50 parking stalls and new eastbound and westbound bus bays. The new Gillespie Road park and ride is within easy cycling distance of the Galloping Goose Regional Trail.
• A new pedestrian underpass will be built east of the new intersection at Glinz Lake Road and Polymede Place to make crossing Highway 14 safer and support active transportation in the region.
• A new road between Manzer Road and Gillespie Road and between Connie Road and Gillespie Road will provide a low-speed and low-traffic volume connection between local sideroads for residents.