Behind closed doors, at an in-camera meeting on March 7, North Saanich council agreed to contribute to the cost of construction of a new roundabout, to be built at Galaran Road and Stirling Way in Sidney. These roadworks are intended to ease traffic flow near the new Amazon distribution centre on the airport lands in Sidney.
According to a media release dated March 14, the estimated costs of the project are $4.9 million to be shared: 20 per cent by North Saanich and 40 per cent each by Sidney and the Victoria Airport Authority (VAA). However, road improvement projects have a notorious record of going over budget.
Clearly, Sidney has a financial interest in supporting this expenditure as they will receive the substantial ongoing tax revenues from the distribution centre when operational. Likewise, the VAA will receive significant lease payments from Amazon going forward. No similar financial benefits will accrue to North Saanich.
Before committing North Saanich taxpayers to such a large, and potentially open-ended, financial liability, there should have been a full, open and informed public consultation process allowing feedback from residents. Before further steps are taken, North Saanich needs to establish an adequate consultation process to ensure taxpayer input is obtained.