This rendering shows the proposed warehouse for lands under the authority of the Victoria Airport Authority near a Sidney residential neighbourhood. (York Realty/Submitted)

This rendering shows the proposed warehouse for lands under the authority of the Victoria Airport Authority near a Sidney residential neighbourhood. (York Realty/Submitted)

Sidney asked to show patience about identity of would-be warehouse operator

President of York Realty says nobody is trying to hide anything

The president of a company planning to build a large warehouse in Sidney on airport lands is asking the public for patience when it comes to the identity of the would-be tenant of the building.

“I can understand people’s interest, but I think people have to have a bit of patience with us,” said Matt Woolsey, president of York Realty. He said his company cannot sign contracts until the company knows what they can and cannot do. “I don’t think anybody is trying to hide. It’s not retail and it’s not commercial, so at this stage, until we have something more concrete to talk about, unfortunately, we cannot get into that.”

Woolsey confirmed that his company is in talks with a company. “Of course we are. We want to build a building, we want a tenant,” he said, later adding he is following his company’s standard process.

“Regardless of what the tenant does or doesn’t want to disclose, you don’t talk about who your tenant is,” he said. They will be part of the conversation at some time, he added.

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The so-far-undisclosed identity of the “last-mile distribution company” that plans to lease the building almost 23 metres tall has perhaps been as much a subject of discussion as the proposed height and massing of the building.

Woolsey’s comments come after Sidney council Monday passed a series of motions in response to plans by York Realty to build a warehouse on federally owned land next to the residential neighbourhood along Galaran Road in West Sidney.

Notably, the initial version of the first motion passed by council recommended that VAA not approve the development “without first engaging WSANEC Leadership Council Society, providing opportunities for public input, and disclosing the name of the tenant.”

RELATED: MP Elizabeth May says public has right to know identity of Sidney warehouse operator

The motion came days after local MP Elizabeth May had said that the public has the right to know the identity of the tenant amidst speculations that online retail giant Amazon would be operating out of the facility.

The final version of the first motion passed by council, however, did not include the requirement to disclose the company planning to lease the facility.

Coun. Terri O’Keeffe said it would be nice to know the identity, but she was not prepared to ask the airport authority to disclose the identity. “We don’t do that for any other organization and I don’t know if disclosing the name of the tenant really is relevant to our discussion of this,” she said.

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RELATED: 23-metre tall warehouse pitched for airport lot next to Sidney neighbourhood

Citing Woolsey’s first appearance before council last month, Mayor Cliff McNeil-Smith later said that the decision to withhold the identity of the company neither lies with VAA nor York Realty in agreeing with O’Keeffe. “It’s the decision of the tenant to not disclose,” he said. “We expressed our concern with that and the community has certainly expressed their concerns with that.”

Coun. Sara Duncan said she is afraid that knowledge about the identity of the company would generate comments that would not apply to the development itself.

Coun. Chad Rintoul agreed with those comments, adding that council is really focused on the impacts of the building on the neighbours and infrastructure. “Having said that, it is my preference that they (the company) would have come forward and been proud of what they are doing here and raise the profile of our community and their business efforts in the process. I cannot think of an undertaking of this nature where that hasn’t happened on airport lands or anywhere else for that matter.”


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wolfgang.depner@peninsulanewsreview.com

Saanich Peninsula

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