Sidney seeks transparency over proposed Beacon building

First significant redevelopment along main street is a five-storey structure

An artist’s rendering (above) of what a proposed five-storey building at Beacon Avenue and 4th Street in Sidney could look like. At left is an overview of the existing block. (Handout)

Updated with clarification on Jan. 2, 2018

A proposed redevelopment of a portion of Beacon Avenue in Sidney has one local politician wanting to take steps to ensure the public knows about it — before anyone thinks of blaming them for slipping the project under the radar.

Councillor Peter Wainwright noted at this week’s Sidney council committee of the whole meeting that the project — a proposed five-storey mixed-use building at the corner of Beacon and 4th Street — is of such significance that it will likely garner a lot of public response. However, because the proponent is only seeking zoning variances and not a full rezoning, it is not subject to a public hearing.

“It kind of looks like a major development to me,” said Wainwright. “But … there’s no public hearing because it’s not a rezoning amendment. We may very well have a lot of people unaware of this going on.”

He added that could lead to some people accusing council of “slipping this under the radar.”

Wainwright said he would like to see council avoid any perception of that, and suggested the project and it’s variance application be advertised twice in the Peninsula News Review. Such ads, he said would make it clear there’s no public hearing, but enable people to find out about it and to learn more.

“There should be absolutely no way of any perception that council was trying to slip this through.”

Wainwright also suggested this could be something council does for every five-or-six-storey multi-use development in town.

Mayor Steve Price said he was worried doing this — essentially changing council’s procedures policy “on the fly” — could put them at legal liability with developers. He said it’s a change to the process and could stop this development application to do a procedure change and then advertise it, adding time to the process.

Sidney’s Chief Administrative Officer Randy Humble said staff would have to look into that, noting that to do so would require council to make a change to the existing procedures bylaw. Wainwright said he thinks it can all be done without stopping the development process.

The rest of council, apart from the mayor, agreed.

What is being proposed for the corner is a five-storey, 35-residential unit and single commercial space building — being eyed early on for a restaurant. Architect Sylvia Bonet with Finlayson Bonet Architects, is seeking variances to the Town’s height limit as well as in the number of parking spaces — reducing the required 44 parking bays to 40.

The building will replace existing structures that are sitting upon contaminated soil. The level of contamination was not discussed this week, but its clean up will be part of the project.

Yet, its height raised issues for some councillors.

“I’m afraid this is going to be precedent setting,” said Coun. Barbara Fallot. “This is one of the first buildings on main street that’s going to be developed.”

She said she cannot support it at five stories. To the north of this site, a five-storey building is already under construction. It was given permission to go higher as it’s providing 54 units of affordable housing.

Price noted that while five or six stories are only allowed in the centre block area of downtown Sidney — mainly for attainable housing — “that doesn’t mean we can’t do it for any other buildings.”

The mayor added this is one of the first projects on Beacon Avenue and he doesn’t want it shut down over the height issue — something he said could shut down development in Sidney “for 20 years.”

“We want the town to grow, to have the family suites … we have to go up a bit. I encourage everyone to have an open mind.”

Price ended up opposing the recommendation to send the project to the next step in the approval process — but only over amendments made by his fellow councillors to ask the developers to re-design some aspects of the building. Those aspects include setting back the fourth and fifth stories further from 4th Street (it’s already significantly set back from Beacon) and adding more pedestrian cover along Beacon.

Fallot was the only other councillor opposed, but the proposal will now proceed to the Advisory Planning Commission review, following the changes asked-for by council this week.

Clarification: An earlier version of this article stated that Mayor Price was worried that changing council’s procedures policy on the fly could put council at “risk” with developers. It has been changed to “legal liability” to better reflect his comments.



editor@peninsulanewsreview.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

 

The area within the blue line is subject to a redevelopment proposal in the Town of Sidney. (Town of Sidney)

Just Posted

New figures show City of Victoria spent $30,000 to remove Macdonald statue

Contentious decision sparked controversy, apology from mayor

High school graduation rates on the rise in Greater Victoria

High school completion up from 71 to 86.8 per cent over 10 years

Pacific Centre Family Services Association a winning design in Colwood

Victoria Real Estate Board winner a welcoming sight

Victoria curling foursome looks to defend provincial title

2019 BC Junior Curling Championships held in Vernon from Dec. 27, 2018 to Jan. 1, 2019

Top tourism executives in B.C. earn almost $1 million

Destination B.C. CEO Marsha Walden received total compensation of $296,487 in 2017-18

Unique technology gives children with special needs more independent play

UVic’s CanAssist refined seven prototypes aided by $1.5M government contribution

Greater Victoria holiday craft fair roundup for Nov. 16 to 18

Check off all of the items on your shopping list at these great events

Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers wanted list for the week of Nov. 14

Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers is seeking the public’s help in locating the… Continue reading

Children between 6 and 9 eligible for $1,200 RESP grant from province

BC Ministry of Education is reminding residents to apply before the deadline

Privacy concerns over credit card use for legal online pot purchases

Worries follow privacy breaches at some Canadian cannabis retailers

NEB approves operating pressure increase to repaired Enbridge pipeline

The pipeline burst outside of Prince George on Oct. 9, now operating at 85 per cent

B.C. VIEWS: Setting speed limits in a post-fact political environment

Media prefer ‘speed kills’ narrative, even when it fails to appear

Controversy erupts over Japanese flag in B.C. classroom

Online petition demanding removal has collected more than 5,700 signatures

Death toll rises to 76 in California fire with winds ahead

Nearly 1,300 people remain unaccounted for more than a week after the fire began

Most Read