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Sidney staff don’t expect Amazon centre to affect town’s GHG targets

Measuring direct impact could be difficult, staff acknowledged
Artist’s rendering shows the proposed new Amazon delivery centre to be operating out on Victoria Airport Authority land in Sidney. (Courtesy of Victoria Airport Authority)

Sidney’s climate change targets would likely remain consistent, even with Amazon operating a last-mile distribution centre within municipal boundaries on Victoria Airport Authority lands.

So said Corey Newcomb, Sidney’s manager of long-range planning, responding to a question from Coun. Scott Garnett at a recent council meeting. Garnett asked whether the municipality would have to revisit its greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions reduction goals, “given that those numbers are going to be higher probably than they were before (the various partners in the project) looked at doing this.”

Current language calls for reductions of GHG emissions within Sidney by a minimum 50 per cent below 2007 levels by 2030, and getting to net zero emissions by 2050.

Pointing to the municipality’s GHG inventory, stated in a report related to Sidney’s official community plan review, Newcomb said most of Sidney’s emissions (about 50 per cent) come from on-road transportation.

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“The targets in there are dependent on widespread adoption of (electric vehicles) and that includes some level of delivery vehicles and things like that,” he said, adding that industry will probably move faster than residential homeowners.

Newcomb said the municipality does not have the tools to quantify with any “reasonable level” the GHG impact of the development. “And from what I have seen of the Clean BC Program that the province is moving forward, there is an expectation that businesses of that type will adopt widespread fleet electrification,” he said. “At least from their on-road transportation emissions, you’d hope that they would decline in concert with broader EV adoption across the province.”

The official description of the Amazon project speaks of a “commitment and infrastructure in place for future electric vehicle fleet,” without giving any further details.

Garnett acknowledged that aspect, but wondered how workers travelling to the facility from outside Sidney might impact GHGs.

Newcomb said measuring specific GHG effects of commuting to and from the facility is tricky. “I don’t think something like that would show up as a major blip on our emissions. It would probably be more reflected in overall regional emissions, if that is the case.”

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While technical in nature, the question of Amazon’s potential impact on local transportation and GHG emissions is of some significance. Critics of the proposal have argued it will lead to more traffic, more congestion and ultimately more emissions. This aspect of the development is unfolding amid concerns that the existing transportation infrastructure near the facility is inadequate.

The Victoria Airport Authority has committed to working with York Realty (the company building and leasing the facility to Amazon), Sidney, North Saanich and other stakeholders to plan for the design and construction of a roundabout at the intersection of Galaran Road and Beacon Avenue, and the eventual realignment of Stirling Way to connect to the roundabout.

The authority has also publicly committed to working with stakeholders to address improvements at the intersection of Highway 17 and Beacon Avenue.

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Wolf Depner

About the Author: Wolf Depner

I joined the national team with Black Press Media in 2023 from the Peninsula News Review, where I had reported on Vancouver Island's Saanich Peninsula since 2019.
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