Sidney is asking the developer of the Sidney Crossing commercial site to try to save some trees.
Faced with only raising potential concerns with the proposed development, town councillors stated in a unanimous vote that the municipality does not have significant ones — only aesthetic ones — as outlined in a staff report presented to them Tuesday night.
One of the main issues the community has, according to councillors, is whether the construction of the Sidney Crossing will take out some trees at the north-east corner of the property, where it meets the intersection of Beacon Avenue and the Pat Bay Highway.
Mayor Steve Price noted that in its voting Tuesday night, council has now expressed “the community’s concerns about the trees.”
Councillors reported hears a lot about those trees and people’s wish to save them. Yet, their vote is only an ask of the developer and does not guarantee their preservation.
“There was a lot of strong sentiment expressed for three trees on the property,” said Coun. Barbara Fallot, adding it’s an ask from the community to try to save the evergreens.
Coun. Tim Chad, one of council’s longest-serving members, noted those trees are probably on Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure (MOTI) land — plus, only grew up when the highway itself was built in the 1960s.
“That lump of ground is detritus pushed there when the highway was created,” Chad said. “and back then, those trees were not there.”
Coun. Mervyn Lougher-Goodey added the trees shouldn’t really be there and would have to be taken down eventually anyway, as they grow into the glide path of the nearby airport.
Coun. Peter Wainwright added those trees would probably interfere with the developer’s proposed signage for the property.
There was also a little humour over the fact that once construction starts, it’ll eliminate “political sign hill” as the site is often used to post election signs.
Council did vote to ask the developer — Omicron Developments Ltd. — and the MOTI to consider saving the trees.
The council’s vote on the issue did not rest solely on the fate of some trees. The Town also sought assurances that Omicron will stick to their promise to build a pedestrian overpass. The original overpass was shown at the Beacon/Pat Bay Highway intersection, but has since been relocated to north of that crossing, in the area of James White Boulevard.
That site, Town staff confirmed, is on MOTI property and is part of a memorandum of understanding between the municipality, MOTI, Omicron and the Victoria Airport Authority (VAA).
VAA Vice-President of Development and Marketing James Bogusz told council Tuesday night they will seek security from Omicron not only for site improvements but for the overpass as well. The overpass, he added, will be similar in design to the last one shown to the Town earlier this year. Bogusz said there may be some changes due to its new location, but assured council that the municipality would see those changes before plans were sent to the province for approval.
Sidney Crossing is Omicron’s proposal for the land, which is controlled by the VAA. It’s a nearly 100,000 square foot commercial project that will have 10 new buildings with a variety of tenants — from a grocery store and drug store, to restaurants and professional offices.
Bogusz added Wednesday that the VAA will discuss Sidney’s suggestions with the developer. He said, following that consultation, the next step will be to issue a development permit for the estimated $35 million project.