North Saanich Mayor Peter Jones says he won’t comment on criticisms about his city’s reduced financial contributions to a road project in Sidney that also benefits North Saanich.
Sidney Coun. Scott Garnett Monday publicly criticized changes to the cost-sharing agreement between Sidney, North Saanich and the Victoria Airport Authority for the proposed roundabout near the Amazon facility. The revised agreement with a value of $6.4 million sees Sidney and the airport authority equally share an additional $900,000.
This arrangement means Sidney and the airport authority are each contributing 41.4 per cent — up from 40 per cent each — while North Saanich’s share is dropping to 17.2 per cent from an initial figure of 20 per cent.
The reason? The previous council had agreed to cap its contribution at $1.1 million following news the cost of the project had escalated.
Garnett, who previously voted against the project for procedural but not substantive reasons, described the revised agreement as “problematic” and argued North Saanich should pay 20 per cent because it also stands to benefit from the roundabout.
Garnett also raised the prospect that North Saanich’s share could sink even lower if costs escalate beyond the new figure of $6.4 million as Sidney and the airport authority have agreed to cover any additional costs beyond $6.4 million. The federal government is currently processing a $5 million grant application, but Garnett and Coun. Steve Duck said partners should not count on it in raising financial questions about the project.
When asked for a response to Garnett’s comments, Jones said the following.
“Number one, I have not yet had any updates from staff with regard to the roundabout, so I don’t know what the deal is,” he said. “Secondly, I’m not going to comment on a councillor or a mayor from another jurisdiction. I do not know the context of his statement and I would not expect any other mayor or councillor to comment on what is said in District of North Saanich chambers and I’m not going to comment on anybody else’s.”
Garnett’s complaint about North Saanich’s share in new revised cost-sharing agreement — which drew a rebuke from Sidney Mayor Cliff McNeil-Smith — can be read as a criticism about North Saanich’s reliability as a funding partner — a reading Jones rejects.
“As Mayor of North Saanich, I will always honour and I will use the term contract or agreement that has been put in place with any other municipality or even the airport authority,” he said. “I would have assumed if the airport authority or the mayor of Sidney were not happy with what was agreed between them, they would let them know and they have not.”
When reminded that Garnett complained about North Saanich, Jones said Garnett did not reach out to him specifically. “He is one councillor and my understanding is that he was the minority,” he said. “Again, if anyone, if any residents, wants to reach, whether they be in Central Saanich, North Saanich or Sidney, I will always respond to them.” Jones later added that Garnett can say whatever he likes in his own chambers.
Jones said this council “will honour whatever was agreed” when asked about any potential damages to North Saanich’s reputation.
“And if there was a disagreement or continues to be a disagreement between the airport, Sidney and North Saanich, then I will discuss it with them. At this point, I have heard nothing from them.”
He added later that he has not yet seen the revised cost-sharing agreement.
“Other than what I read in the press, I know nothing else about the roundabout.”
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