UPDATE: Sidney City Council votes 5-2 to approve re-zoning for Sidney Gateway project site
A big crowd turned out tonight for a public hearing on a proposed commercial development for airport land west of the the Pat Bay Highway in Sidney.
More than 300 people packed the Shoal Centre to weigh in on plans for the so-called Gateway development.
Developer Omicron, along with the Victoria Airport Authority, want to use the land to build a $35-million shopping centre including retailers, restaurants and a large grocery store.
Sidney council needs to approve zoning changes and alter the community plan to allow the 98,000 sq.ft project to proceed
but there are those who want the land to remain agricultural, and others who worry the development will harm existing businesses in Sidney.
“I have seen dozens of downtown communities brought to ruin by the introduction of highway strip malls,” said opponent and Sidney resident Don Enright.
“Everywhere from Courtenay, B.C. to Albany, New York and beyond. Look at Mission, look at Prince George, by what force of magic do you think Sidney will be different?”
Supporters of the project point to what they say will be net benefits for the area such as new jobs, tax revenue and a way to draw new shoppers to the area.
“We will generate 157 jobs with a payroll of $8.4 million during construction,” said Peter Laughlin of Omicron.
“With 220 new, ongoing local jobs with an annual payroll of $6.6 million into the community.”