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Arbitrator ruling derails Peninsula Co-op plans

Aug 10 2012

Central Saanich cannot change its bylaws to allow a co-op supermarket outside the area designated for growth, an arbitrator has ruled.

The District of Central Saanich planned to amend a zoning bylaw to allow the Peninsula Co-op a 3,700-square-metre space at Keating Cross and West Saanich roads, but the Capital Regional District rejected it because the site is outside the growth area permitted by the municipal plan and the regional growth strategy. All area municipalities agreed to the growth strategy to prevent sprawl.

The dispute between Central Saanich and the CRD then went to arbitration.

"We are relieved that the planning policy and legislative framework that the CRD and board operate under has been respected," CRD board chairman Geoff Young said in a statement.

He added that a ruling in favour of Central Saanich would send the message that the regional growth strategy could be "skirted" along with municipal planning policies.

Central Saanich Mayor Alastair Bryson said the decision means council can't move forward with that proposal.

"The Peninsula Co-op is a highly valued member of the Central Saanich community," he said, adding it's the major employer in the area. "I've invited the co-op to explore other opportunities."

He said that during the process to amend the regional context statement, Central Saanich decided to change the maximum single-use retail space in Keating Business Park.

"Central Saanich historically has had a self-imposed 5,000-metre-square limit in Keating Business Park," he said, adding that it's no longer the case

"We do have underdeveloped property on Keating Cross Road."

The proposed bylaw amendment to allow the supermarket was first rejected by the CRD board in August 2011 and nine months later its decision was confirmed, leading to the arbitration process.

Other municipalities were invited to participate in the process but North Saanich was the only one to do so - in support of Central Saanich's amendment.

Earlier this year, the coop, Tsartlip First Nation and federal government began discussing the possibility of building the supermarket on Tsartlip land on Stelly's Cross Road.

The dispute resolution between Central Saanich and the CRD is binding and the arbitrator isn't required to give an explanation for his decision.

cclancy@timescolonist.com

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