Mayor Cliff McNeil-Smith (who will return to Sidney mayor’s chair following acclamation) identified housing as a “de-facto” priority of the incoming council among other issues during remarks that also touched on plans for a roundabout near the Amazon facility and the future of the Beacon Wharf.
“Depending on possible changes in costing and the outcome of a $5 million federal grant application, there may be decision points for the next council or the project will commence as currently approved,” he said prior to an all-candidates forum hosted by the Sidney Community Association Sept. 25.
“So for example, if we get a $1 million or a $2 million grant, the two councils and the airport authority have already given the approvals for it to go forward. It’s the intention of the parties to proceed with the project,” he said later in an interview. McNeil expects to hear about the application in early 2023.
Sidney, North Saanich and the Victoria Airport Authority (VAA) earlier announced a memorandum of understanding to build a roundabout at the intersection of Beacon Avenue West and Galaran Road, as well as realigning Sterling Way in the hopes of smoothing traffic flow in the area.
But the project has seen its current cost estimate rise to $6.4 million, up from $5 million.
North Saanich — responsible for 20 per cent of the costs, with the remainder split between Sidney and VAA under the terms of the memorandum — has already capped its contribution toward the project at $1.1 million with no share of any future increases during construction. Sidney staff have acknowledged this aspect but stressed that the partners remain committed to the project with staff continuing discussions.
McNeil-Smith also touched on the future of an already-existing and far more iconic piece of infrastructure, the Beacon Wharf, during his remarks on Sunday.
McNeil-Smith said the municipality conducts regular full condition assessments of the aging facility with the next one due in 2023.
“And that will come to council and review of options at the time for what would be a very significant capital project,” he said.
The current wharf is said to have less than 10 years of life left following its construction around 1960.
The municipality owned ownership from the federal government of the structure in 2006.
The current council accepted staff’s recommendation to maintain the wharf for as long as possible without replacing it. The staff report did, however, leave the door open to replacement.
The municipality also informed Marker Group that it would no longer pursue a public-private partnership to replace the facility with a floating wharf featuring a hotel and public space.
The municipality had earlier presented the public with two formal options: remove the wharf without replacing it, or replace it with a floating wharf as part of a public-private partnership with Marker Group.
Other issues identified by McNeil-Smith included fiscal prudence in the light of challenging economic times, the review of the municipality’s zoning bylaw, completion of the active transportation plan and reconciliation.
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