The Victoria Airport Authority has received a development permit application for the Sidney Crossing shopping centre slated for 10 acres at Patricia Bay Highway and Beacon Avenue — about seven months later than the original construction timeline suggested by developer Omicron.
“We will now be reviewing the application and once completed, which is generally within a 30-day period, we will send it as a referral to Town of Sidney and other agencies,” airport vice-president James Bogusz told the Times Colonist on Thursday.
Those agencies include the B.C. Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure along with Nav Canada, the private company that manages air-traffic control and other civil aviation functions at airports.
That process is expected to take three to four months. The overall concept of Omicron’s $35-million Sidney Crossing development, formerly referred to as Gateway Shopping Centre, remains the same as what was approved during the 2016 rezoning process by Sidney council.
“No construction will begin until all approvals and permits are in place,” Bogusz said. “There is no fixed date.”
When Sidney council approved the rezoning last Sept. 13 by a 5-2 vote, construction was anticipated to start this spring as Omicron expected its applications — pending an infrastructure report from the transportation ministry — to go to the Victoria Airport Authority for review by the end of 2016.
The 98,000-square-foot centre includes 10 buildings. It will be anchored by a large grocery store and include a major appliance and electronics store. There is consideration for a daycare and a medical office affiliated with the Saanich Peninsula Hospital.
The timing is up to Omicron, which worked extensively with the ministry and the town on issues such as moving the $3-million pedestrian overpass in the developer’s $5.5-million amenities package from the south side of the Beacon Avenue intersection to the north side to better serve pedestrians and school children crossing highway traffic.
Once the airport authority conducts its internal review, the application will be referred to the town and other required agencies, Bogusz said.
The 10 acres of airport land were removed from the Agricultural Land Reserve for the development, a move some North Saanich agriculture organizations fought unsuccessfully to reverse.
The airport has more than 300 acres of land not in the ALR available for farming and nearly 300 more acres in the ALR. Some opposition is rooted in the fact that another major shopping development, Sandown Commons, is also in the works on former raceway land, a few blocks away in North Saanich.
The Support Our Sidney organization has been vociferous in opposition to Sidney Crossing.
SOS president Richard Talbot wrote to federal Transportation Minster Marc Garneau questioning whether the airport authority has the power to use federal expropriated lands, now deemed surplus, for a commercial shopping centre “that would compete directly with downtown Sidney.”
A response from Ottawa supplied to the Times Colonist said “decisions on transactions related to commercial tenancy development projects are ultimately the responsibility of the relevant airport authority and do not require Transport Canada’s review or approval,” provided those decisions respect designations in the land-use plan.