Sidney has toughened its final response to plans for a hotel-restaurant development.
Kothari Group plans to build a three-storey, 129-room hotel on a lot fronting Beacon Avenue West and Stirling Way with a single-storey restaurant nearby. The area was once under consideration for the Gateway project, a large retail development that did not come to fruition after drawing public opposition.
The proposed development — which lies within municipal boundaries but outside municipal control under the authority of the Victoria Airport Authority — first appeared before council in September after becoming public in late July. Council deferred a final, non-binding response to this development referral until Monday, which saw Coun. Barbara Fallot propose amendments to staff recommendations.
The new language states that comments from council be addressed rather than considered.
Another language change calls for modifications to the hotel’s northeast corner. “This is a really important corner of (Sidney),” said Fallot. “To put up a generic building is inappropriate and is just not good enough. Given that the same developer is going to be working on the corner across the street, I think it’s important for us to let them know that we are expecting something…they need to step up and do something better than what they have presented so far.”
Another amendment drops a conditional should in calling for the inclusion of improvements to Beacon Avenue West and Stirling Way to standards identified in the Beacon West Traffic Study, an extension of the multi-use path along the full extent of the Beacon Avenue West frontage to extend to the intersection of Highway 17 as well as a pedestrian sidewalk along Stirling Avenue.
As for the rest of the recommendations, they call for the inclusion of public washrooms in the hotel along with a long-term agreement with the municipality to ensure its availability and improved pedestrian access.
The passed motion now goes to VAA.
Monday’s discussion unfolded against the backdrop of a letter from the Sidney Community Association, in which the group complained about the lack of public notice from VAA about the project. The letter asks why VAA remains exempt from Sidney’s development approval process under the accord governing the relationship between the municipality and the airport authority.
Council unanimously passed a resolution asking staff to respond to the letter with chief administrative officer Randy Humble previewing the municipality’s response.
“The point should be made very, very clear and in no uncertain terms, that the VAA lands, particularly the lands that are in question, are under federal authority, federal jurisdiction,” said Humble.“And to be clear — they are not bound by any municipal process or protocols.”
At least two councillors, Fallot and Coun. Terri O’Keeffe, expressed a level of sympathy with the letter from the association.
Questions about design, public notice and more broadly the question of jurisdiction concerning development on VAA lands are not new but gained currency in the spring of 2021 when residents of Galaran Road near the Amazon facility first heard about the project, largely through the media.
Geoff Dickson, president and chief executive officer of Victoria International Aiport, acknowledged in May 2021 that VAA needs to do a better job in communicating with the public.
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