A recent update of downtown Sidney business vacancy rates shows signs like these are becoming harder to spot. (File)

Sidney commercial vacancy rates declining

Economic Development Commission has budget restored to improve visibility

Communicating what the Town of Sidney’s Economic Development Commission (EDC) does is a high priority for the coming years.

On Monday, Sidney Town Council confirmed restoring the EDC’s annual budget to $100,000 and will allow the EDC to collaborate with North and Central Saanich on economic development issues on the Saanich Peninsula.

That will help the EDC meet some of its internal goals. In a recent presentation to council, EDC Chair David Calveley said the group has to lets its work be known in the general community — or raise its overall profile in order to have the information they collect reach the public.

Some of that information in their recent report to council, includes a revision of the amount of buildings, stores or offices that are vacant in downtown Sidney in a retail gaps study conducted by Urbancis Consultants Ltd. and additional data collected by the EDC itself.

The Town commisioned Urbanics to collect local data on business vacancies, following up on a Sidney Business Improvement Area study done in early 2016 that showed many business spaces were vacant in town. The EDC was given the task of updating that information in a more formal setting, and the Urbancs study was part of the process.

According to the Urbanics report, overall unit vacancies in Sidney were as high was nine per cent (or 36 units) in July of this year. By September, that had dropped to 8.29 per cent.

Looked at as vacant square feet along Beacon Avenue specifically, that percentage drops to a high of five per cent in July, dropping to 4.6 per cent in September.

Urbanics noted in its December report that most of those vacancies were on the second level of buildings in the downtown area of Sidney — roughly 25 per cent of all second floor units.

“In contrast, only six per cent of street level units are vacant,” stated the report. “Of all the vacancies, six are either getting redeveloped or will soon be redeveloped and three are classified as vacant but might be amalgamated into neighbouring space.”

Overall commercial vacancy rates in Sidney, said the report, are not dissimilar from downtown Victoria, which has also experienced a drop in its overall street-level store vacancy rate between 2015 and 2016.

“We anticipate that Sidney’s business district is also likely to experience similar retail expansion and increased demand for street-front retailing going forward.”

Councillor Mervyn Lougher-Goodey seized upon the lower Beacon Avenue vacancy rate, saying that the work of EDC and the Urbanics report “eradicates the bad stuff.” He referred to the early 2016 SBIA study as “flawed information.”

“The problem is,” he said, “people in the community still are asking about the empty storefronts.”

He said more work needs to be done to get the word out about more current vacancy rates.

Coun. Erin Bremner-Mitchell said that’s the EDC’s objective — to communicate better with the public about its work.

The report also showed council the gaps in retail in Sidney. Those fall in areas such as general merchandise, furniture and home furnishings and eating and drinking establishments. The report does address the local retail food segment, noting it’s well-represented, apart from specialty shops (butcher, cheese shop). The report stated those “would be supported through additional “inflow” of retail expenditure form the secondary and tertiary trade areas.”

Urbanics also looked at Sidney’s various market opportunities and noted that snapshots of commercial vacancies need to be taken periodically to determine trends.

The report takes in current market information and makes some projections based on population growth and income. It does not mention the potential impact of commercial projects such as the Sidney Crossing retail site on Victoria Airport Authority land, or the Sandown development in nearby North Saanich. Both of those projects have yet to come to pass.



editor@peninsulanewsreview.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Journey Middle School students try out the trades

Program is designed to expose students to career options

Local Monarchist says Saanich Peninsula would be a ‘great place’ for Prince Harry and Meghan Markle

Bruce Hallsor also expects the couple’s professional opportunities to lie outside Greater Victoria

Court rejects mistrial for accused Victoria drug dealer who fired his lawyer

Horst Schirmer filed a mistrial application on basis of receiving incompetent representation

Saanich seeks young residents to serve on 2020 advisory committees

Youth members must be between 16 and 24 years old

Central Saanich councillor says council may re-examine speed limits in Brentwood Bay

Coun. Carl Jensen says he wouldn’t be surprised if council were to move on the issue

Officials reaching out to those in contact with Canada’s first coronavirus patient

The illness has sickened at least 1,975 people and killed 56 in China

Kobe Bryant killed in California helicopter crash: reports

NBA star was reportedly in his private helicopter at the time of the crash

Investigation launched after six dead puppies dumped in Richmond hotel parking lot

RAPS reminds people they can always give up puppies they can’t take care of

Risk of coronavirus low in B.C. as first case emerges in Toronto: officials

There have been no confirmed cases of the virus in B.C.

‘Presumptive case’ of coronavirus in Canada confirmed by Ontario doctors

Man in his 50s felt ill on his return to Canada from Wuhan, China

VIDEO: Drone footage shows extent of damage in Highway 4 rockslide

Tofino, Ucluelet still cut off from rest of the island, as crews work to repair roadway

People knowingly take fentanyl so make policy changes to reduce harm: B.C. study

Dr. Jane Buxton, an epidemiologist at the centre, says drug users need more resources,

‘My heart is going to bleed’: Bodies brought back to Canada following Iran plane crash

Remains of Sahar Haghjoo, 37, and her eight-year-old daughter, Elsa Jadidi, were identified last weekend

Most Read