A spokesperson for the Victoria Airport Authority (VAA) said the organization is still reviewing a long list of recommendations from the Town of Sidney concerning plans for a massive warehouse, but “will take each recommendation seriously.”
Rod Hunchak, VAA’s director of business development and community relations, said the organization will continue to formulate its response in the coming days. VAA will be able to address some recommendations in short order, while other recommendations will require more response time.
He made these comments after Sidney council passed a series of motions in response to plans by York Reality to build a warehouse almost 23 metres tall on federally owned land next to the residential neighbourhood along Galaran Road in West Sidney.
The first main motion recommends VAA not approve the development “without first engaging WSANEC Leadership Council Society and providing opportunities for public input” with particular engagement on the residential neighbourhood along Galaran Road.
The second motion recommends approval of the development be subject to nine conditions, including improvements to the local transportation infrastructure as well as the appearance of the building, with the ninth condition calling for revisions to the eastern facade of the building “to reduce its impact” on the Galaran Road neighbourhood without making any specific recommendations.
These motions are non-binding for the VAA (which holds approval authority) and see Sidney stop short of making a definitive statement for or against the proposal, likely to the chagrin of area residents. But comments from Geoff Dickson, VAA’s president and chief executive officer and Hunchak suggest VAA is willing to work with neighbours and municipal authorities to a point.
Dickson signalled little if any compromise on the building’s proposed height and massing and VAA is under no obligation to act on the recommendations from Sidney.
Steve Duck, president of the Sidney Community Association, will be one local voice keeping an eye on VAA’s commitment.
“Geoff Dickson did verbally commit to engaging both the community, especially the Galaran neighbourhood, and willingness to listen to input from town planners,” said Duck.
He described council’s response as a “valiant effort for the town to save face,” while praising Coun. Peter Wainwright for his role in drafting the response. “I think (Wainwright) did a great job of bringing forward a comprehensive amended motion to attempt to address the concerns,” he said. “However, the 2000 (memorandum of agreement concerning development referrals) gives free rein to the VAA to do as they please.”
Duck said the proposal is permissible under current zoning and will bring economic resources to the town but with little regard for the residents.
“Council made several strong recommendations regarding public engagement, addressing impacts on the adjacent residential neighbourhood, transportation infrastructure improvements, and civil works and frontage improvements,” said Mayor Cliff McNeil-Smith in a release. “Town staff provided recommendations from its technical review, and the community provided meaningful input to council on the benefits and impacts of the development.”
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