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Empty Loblaws lot fuels speculation in Saanich

Modular housing complex proposed for Tolmie Avenue property
This empty lot on Tolmie Avenue owned by Loblaw has been the subject of growing speculation after Coun. Colin Plant said the site has “potential” for modular housing in the future. Located in the heart of Saanich’s thriving commercial and retail district next to Mayfair Shopping Centre and Island Home Centre, the site once hosted Mayfair Lanes bowling ally. Black Press File.

Mum is the word about the future of an empty property in Saanich that belongs to a national grocery giant.

“For understandable reasons, Saanich does not comment on discussions we may or may not be having with any property owner about redevelopment or purchasing or leasing land,” said Laura Ciarniello, a spokesperson for the District of Saanich, when asked about Saanich’s plan for an empty lot at 760 Tolmie Ave. that Loblaws has owned since 2005.

Speculation about the future of the property rose after Coun. Colin Plant responded to Saanich council candidate Teale Phelps Bondaroff, who had wondered why the lot remains empty in light of local housing needs.

Bondaroff suggested in a letter to the Saanich News that the lot be used for modular housing available under a provincial program.

“This property has been vacant for over 12 years and could easily accommodate a modular housing complex, along with a temporary urban farm, and more,” he said in his letter.

“If you/we can get [Loblaws] to consider disposing of this site, I think it has potential,” Plant responded.

The 13,670 square-metre lot has remained empty since Loblaw torn down the Mayfair Lanes bowling alley in 2006. Loblaws last submitted a plan to Saanich in 2010 to redevelop the site with a Real Canadian Superstore.

Despite its prime location, the application has been on hold and the lot has since remained empty.

Some had originally speculated that the site could host a future Walmart. But the company has since opened a new outlet at Uptown. The shopping centre later added a Whole Foods location in 2016.

Loblaws said in an email from its public relations department that the company continues to own the property and is still considering development. “But we do not have any additional info to share at the moment,” it read. “We will be in touch as further details warrant.”

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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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