February 1, 2021
Senior Manager, Long Range Planning
Town of Sidney
Hello Mr. Newcomb,
Re: Official Community Plan (OCP) Community Engagement
The purpose of this letter is to express the Sidney Community Association’s support for the modified public engagement process, given current constraints for public gatherings and to provide you with our preliminary comments on the OCP review. Given the date of the last OCP update, developments since then and new challenges ahead, we believe that this OCP update is a genuine opportunity for a meaningful public engagement in charting our way forward. To this end, we are encouraging our members to participate in the Town of Sidney’s review process.
In the coming weeks, we will continue to share issues, concerns and recommendations viewed by our members as critical to an updated OCP in specific areas relating to Development, Transportation and Environment. Following are our initial reflections and comments and input to the OCP review:
The current OCP is problematic both for residents and Town Council in making decisions on development applications as many policies are unclear, lacking or inconsistent with zoning and other bylaws. This has contributed to confusion, controversy and public protests on major development applications approved by Town Council.
To cite a few more recent examples of residential developments: the Ardwell subdivision; Painted Ladies (James White Boulevard); and Rudd development (Malaview), 9500 FifthStreet. This need to be addressed in the OCP and Town of Sidney’s development permit guidelines.
There have been a number of commercial projects, including Gateway (Sidney Crossing) and the fire hall site on Third Street and Sidney Avenue that should be reviewed transparently in the context of the current OCP and zoning bylaws.
With respect to downtown developments and the integration of the Downtown Local Area Plan into the proposed OCP, we will be focusing on inconsistencies in the Zoning and Permit guidelines as they pertain to downtown development.
We will also be providing comments regarding streets in Sidney as to how they accommodate a range of mobility choices. Can Sidney develop transportation corridors which manage increasing demand from cars, bicycles, pedestrians and other mobility means? This has been recently raised with respect to bus stop locations, cycling lanes, scooter use and pedestrian safety.
Finally, our members have raised concerns regarding the weakness of environmental protection policies and enforcement. An example is Robert’s Bay, a designated Environmentally-Sensitive Area for the protection and enhancement of marine life and wildlife, continues to have significant challenges regarding seawalls, sea level rise concerns and property management. Tree protection and retention needs to be assured in consideration of any development, including the Beaufort Road, also a designated Environmentally-Sensitive Area. We would like to see more seafront stewardship, water contamination and sea level rise issues addressed in the OCP. This effort is certainly one which can be addressed in collaboration with our Peninsula neighbours, the Districts of Central Saanich and North Saanich as they too are in the midst of OCP reviews.
On behalf of the Sidney Community Association, I want to express our support for, and expectation of a meaningful OCP, coupled with a transparent accountability framework that will reflect the hopes and aspirations of Town of Sidney residents.
Sidney Community Association
Mayor and Council, Town of Sidney
Central Saanich Community Association
North Saanich Residents Association