The Town of Sidney has signed its second memorandum of understanding this year — this time with the Victoria Airport Authority.
A media release issued today indicates the municipality and the VAA are partnering to develop a commercial/industrial site on 10 acres of land beside the Pat Bay Highway. The land, of which only a small portion is owned by the Town and the rest by the VAA, is south of Beacon Avenue West, between the highway and Galaran Road.
In recent weeks, the town council has been meeting in-camera with VAA representatives . Both machinery and survey crews have been seen at work on the site.
In the media release, the Town of Sidney states the memorandum outlines the “principles of partnership relating to the proposed development.” The Town states a commercial/professional centre is seen by both parties “as an extension to Sidney’s Beacon Avenue commercial district, as well as a welcoming gateway into the Town’s downtown core.”
Sidney has recently been grappling with threats to its downtown area in the form of proposed commercial sites in Central and North Saanich. Mayor Larry Cross in April struck a downtown revitalization task force to try to address issues surrounding competition for customers, among other issues. That task force met last week and has not yet publicized its terms of reference.
“I can’t think of a better development partner than the VAA,” stated Cross in the release. “We truly look forward to working with them on this exciting project.”
VAA CEO Geoff Dickson added, “the establishment of this partnership … is a tremendous opportunity to develop a quality commercial development built to the highest standards.
“It also presents an opportunity for the VAA to diversify its revenue base in order to keep aviation fees low to attract air service.”
The VAA’s long-term plans for the airport property have included a potential commercial site on the property in question. Under this agreement, both the VAA and Town of Sidney will share lease revenues, to be collected by the VAA.
The Town states the VAA will initiate stakeholder consultation prior to seeking amendments to the Town’s official community plan and zoning bylaws.
Earlier this year. Sidney signed a memorandum of understanding with the Marker Group for a proposed commercial/residential development on Town land on the waterfront. The Town later backed out of the agreement, citing the results of initial tests that showed contamination in the soil. During public debate on that memorandum of understanding, the town council faced anger from some residents over the potential loss of waterfront land to the municipality.