Monday, November 15, 2010

End run around local planning

Sobey's, the owners of Thrifty's has announced plans to build a new warehouse in North Saanich on Airport Authority lands.  Here is the report from CFAX:

BIG NEW GROCERY WAREHOUSE TO BE BUILT NEAR THE AIRPORT
Nov 15, 2010
THE PARENT COMPANY OF THRIFTY FOODS PLANS TO BUILD A $31-MILLION DOLLAR DISTRIBUTION CENTRE ON VICTORIA AIRPORT AUTHORITY LAND.
SOBEYS INCORPORATED SAYS THE 150-THOUSAND SQUARE FOOT FACILITY IS TO BE BUILT ON 19 ACRES OF LAND AT THE CORNER OF MCDONALD PARK AND MILLS ROAD IN NORTH SAANICH.
CONSTRUCTION IS SCHEDULED TO BEGIN MID 2011 AND BE COMPLETE BY MID 2012.
IN A PREPARED STATEMENT RELEASED THIS MORNING, SOBEYS' PRESIDENT AND CEO BILL MCEWAN SAYS "SINCE 2007 SOBEYS HAS INVESTED OVER $90-MILLION DOLLARS IN NEW AND UPGRADED THRIFTY FOODS STORES AND DISTRIBUTION CENTRES, ADDING MORE THAN 800 JOBS TO BRITISH COLUMBIA."
THRIFTY FOODS HAS A DISTRIBUTION CENTRE NEAR BY, OFF KEATING CROSS ROAD IN CENTRAL SAANICH. THE COMPANY SAYS THAT LOCATION WILL STAY OPEN AS THE SOBEYS DIVISION OFFICE.
- Ryan Price

My concern is that the local council in North Saanich has no say over what happens on the airport lands.  The Airport Authority is outside of the jurisdiction of local government and has no need to answer to the public or partake in any planning or zoning.

I believe we need more industrial lands in this region but I do not like it if this happens by end running any locally elected government.

I have been long concerned that the Airport Authority can choose the land use on their lands, there is no real limits on what they do on their lands.   I could almost understand the need to allow them the power to manage their lands for airport purposes, but to be allowed to build something on their lands that has no connection at all to the airport seems an arrogant approach.

Is North Saanich really the right location for a huge warehouse?  It might be, but it should be decided by the people of North Saanich.  It is wrong to have the airport outside of the jurisdiction of local government when it comes to planning.  I suspect that North Saanich is also not allowed to set the property tax rates for Airport lands and has to accept whatever the Airport wants to pay.

If I have time, I am going learn some more about the relationship between the Airport Authority and North Saanich.

All that said, I do think it is a good location for a warehouse and the need is crucial for more warehouse space in this region as there is very little space for anyone to store goods in this region.  I also understand that if this land were within the jurisdiction of a local government the odds of the warehouse being able to go ahead is remote.  
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