When all is said and done, it will have taken more than three years to re-develop one of the most prominent corners in the Greater Victoria region, largely because of access issues that have required the input of multiple actors.
Aaron Vornbrock, principal at Urban Design Group Architects (UDGA), said the company plans to submit amended designs for its proposed re-development of a gas station at the southwest corner of Patricia Bay Highway and Sayward Road in Saanich early next week.
Images and site plans available on Saanich’s website show a gas station (Chevron), a drive-thru fast food restaurant (A&W) and an attached convenience store (On-the-Run), as well as retail space for two other businesses. They would replace the location’s current tenant, a gas station run by Fas Gas Plus, an Alberta-based gas station chain, with locations across western Canada, Ontario, Prince Edward Island and the Northwest Territories.
Vornbrock said he is hopeful that the proposed amendments to the development will help move it forward.
“If all things go well, we would be looking at starting construction in October,” he said. Construction itself would last seven to eight months, taking the project into late spring, early summer of 2020, more than three years after the conception of the project. Saanich received the company’s application in early February 2018.
Compared to other projects, the pace of this one falls somewhere in the middle, said Vornbrock.
“It’s a little bit more lengthy than what we are used to seeing,” he said, pointing to a comparable project in Chilliwack that wrapped up in February 2019 after starting in June 2017.
Site access has been the primary issue, said Vornbrock. The site needs a left hand turn for gas deliveries onto the site when heading west along Sayward Road, he said. But space — or the lack thereof — could impact highway traffic, he added.
These discussions have not just involved the District of Saanich’s planning and engineering departments, but also the provincial ministry of transportation and infrastructure (MOTI), said Vornbrock, adding that working with Saanich staff has “been very reasonable.”
“As far as [Saanich] planning and staff, they have been very good,” he said.
The actual building will not differ much from what Saanich received, and promises to be a profitable one, by virtue of its location.
As the 2014 Highway 17 Planning Study says, the highway is the “gateway to the Capital Region on Vancouver Island, accommodating the movement of people, goods and services externally from the BC Ferries terminal at Swartz Bay and the Victoria International Airport to the Victoria Region and other areas of the Island.”
According to the report, daily traffic volumes range anywhere from almost 15,000 vehicles per day to over 60,000 vehicles per day from the north to south segments of the corridor. Daily traffic volumes are highest between Sayward Road and Royal Oak Drive.
Overall, the report predicts significant traffic volume increases. It predicts peak hour corridor traffic volumes in the northern areas of the corridor (north of Mount Newton Cross Road) will go up between 20 per cent and 30 per cent over the next 25 years.
For the corridor’s southern section (south of Mount Newton Cross Road), the report predicts an increase of up to 50 per cent. “Peak hour directional volumes in the southern areas of the corridor are projected to be as high as 3,600 vehicles during the afternoon peak hours in the southbound direction and slightly more than 3,000 vehicles northbound,” it reads.
In short, plenty of vehicles will drive past the redeveloped location, which the provincial government also plans to improve, according to the report to handle additional traffic flow.