One of the new owners of the Deep Cove Market said they want to add value to the iconic neighbourhood store.
Mike Edwardson also said that the new ownership group has no plans to re-develop the property, in addressing comments that had appeared on the website of Save North Saanich. The new owners are looking forward to meeting the community and talking about their plans at a barbecue scheduled for this Saturday (Oct. 29).
“Even though we own a construction company, we feel that development should happen in the appropriate places as directed by the voice of the community and North Saanich, particularly the Deep Cove area, should remain rural,” said Edwardson.
Edwardson said later he and his partners have no plans to re-develop. “I find it just laughable that that was insinuated,” he said. “The opinion has been formed by somebody who does not understand the nature of development. You want to buy one that is clearly indicated in the OCP to be a zone for development. Secondly, you want to have a property that has ease of services. In this case, Deep Cove Market and that whole location doesn’t have a sewer.”
He made these comments prior to the upcoming community barbecue, scheduled for noon to 2 p.m. on Oct. 29, and after a post from Save North Saanich on its website Oct. 14 — one day before the 2022 municipal election scheduled on Oct. 15.
Long-time owner Rosemary Scott had earlier announced the sale of the business to what she described as two “amazing couples Charlotte and Mike Edwardson, and Karalyn and Dan Schuetze.”
The Save North Saanich post — which lacks a byline — said Scott’s Facebook post failed to identify that Edwardson and Schuetze are the general manager and president of Villamar Construction.
“So here we have two of the main operators of a residential development corporation, buying a little store on a picturesque corner that was ground zero for the erstwhile ‘mixed-use residential’ proposal for Deep Cove (which is drafted and ready to be slotted right back into the new OCP should the next council feel so inclined),” the post reads.
While the early phase of North Saanich’s Official Community Plan review spoke of a community hub in Deep Cove, this idea has since disappeared.
The post goes on to say that Save North Saanich was crossing its fingers that the co-owners of Villamar Construction would “make a mean roast beef sandwich and everything will be great.” The post added that the “questions raised by this announcement are a timely reminder” that the “the only thing standing between the places and spaces that make up this community, and the looming spectre of development, is a strong mayor and council.”
Hours after the post appeared, North Saanich residents elected their new council. Five out of seven members, including mayor-elect Peter Jones, had received an endorsement from the Save North Saanich group, which has been critical of the OCP review process specifically and the pace of development generally.
Edwardson said the post saddened him. “I think it was political manoeuvring,” he said. “(It) was a bit of a rude awakening into a new venture for us. But rather than giving the spotlight to that organization, I just want to say that the overwhelming response from the community, who have had the willingness and the desire to actually talk to us and shake our hands, has been so positive.”
Edwardson also pointed out that he and Schuetze are co-owners of Villamar Construction and that their fellow co-owners in that company have no ownership in the market. Edwardson added that both he and Schuetze like the rural lifestyle as they live on rural acreages on the Saanich Peninsula themselves.
If anyone from Save North Saanich had reached out, they would have quickly found themselves at ease, said Edwardson.
He said earlier he and Schuetze had known about the property for a long time. “We have always done a lot of work out on the Peninsula, ” he said. “Our bread-and-butter is construction work on the Peninsula. The Deep Cove Market has always been a place where we ended for lunchtime. So we were pretty excited when it came up for sale. It has just been an iconic business that we have always loved (as customers). Both of our wives equally loved the store, so we thought this would be an awesome legacy investment for us. So we decided to go in on it together.”
The property was listed at $2.1 million, said Edwardson. “And we found a figure that was fair to Rosemary, right in that ballpark. We had to negotiate on inventory and whatnot,” he said.
Edwardson praised Scott’s ownership of the business, which lasted nearly two decades.
“In my mind, she is the master of understanding what the community desires out of a local market and being able to curate the store in a way that meets the needs of the community,” he said. “That is a huge learning curve for us.”
He added that Saturday’s barbecue will serve as a send-off for Scott. “I’m sure there will be lots of tears and laughs,” he said. “It has been a huge part of her life. It has been her life for almost the last 20 years.”
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