Central Saanich council has decided to open up the Keating X Road area to big box stores. I am not really thrilled at this because of the impact on industrial land in this region. Central Saanich is now allowing large retail uses in the light industrial (I-1) zone.
As it is, the CRD is desperately short of enough industrial land for our existing needs. This is not helped by the huge the property taxes levied on industrial lands, but even then there is very little land available in this region for industrial uses. We can not afford to have some more of it used for retail.
Without enough industrial land many of the basic services needed to make this city operate become harder and harder to offer. Metal fabricators, heavy truck maintenance, waste material sorting, commercial laundries, warehouses, paint shops and a lot more all need industrial land. We need these just to be able to function on a day to day basis.
It is the lack of decent and affordable warehouse space that causes retailers in this region to store their goods up island or on the mainland.
We are planning on a return to shipbuilding, but without places for the ancillary businesses to the industry, it is going to be very hard to make a long term sustainable industry. It will mean that more of the work from the federal ship building contract will end up in the lower mainland.
The industrial lands are also the primary locations for decent paying blue collar jobs in the CRD. When you take several acres and turn them into a big box store you replace the decent paying jobs blue collar jobs with lower paying retail jobs.
The loss of industrial land increases the wage differential between civil servants and the rest of the population. This will not improve the general well being of the region.
It all looks like a reaction to First Nations allowing retail development on reserve and not something that is well thought out in the context of the OCP. This is not the reason to make this change.