Victoria Airport Authority, British Columbia, Canada planning new 17.4-hectare Willingdon light-industrial park

New business park planned next to airport

High-end hub expected to draw high-tech firms, ‘clean’ ventures
By Carla Wilson, Times Colonist  July 20, 2012
From the Vancouver Sun 

A new business park is planned for Victoria Airport Authority lands as the non-profit agency looks for ways to boost revenue.

The 17.4-hectare Willingdon light-industrial park will be an environmentally friendly, sustainable development, the airport authority’s director of marketing and community relations said Thursday.

“We will wait for the highest and best use of the property, rather than firstup, first-served,” said Terry Stewart, adding the location is desirable because of its proximity to the airport, ferries and barges, and float planes at Patricia Bay.

Tenants of the park, on the southwest portion of the airport lands, are expected to be high-tech firms, offices, research and development operations, and clean manufacturing ventures in a “very classy, high-end type of development,” where buildings are not above three storeys tall, Stewart said.

The flat site is now leased for corn and hay crops. Nickel Bros. house movers has also stored houses on it, but no longer needs the land.

It’s all part of a trend by airports around the world to become economic hubs.

Victoria airport lands are already home to close to 100 businesses and other types of operations, including a plastics manufacturing firm, Thrifty Foods’ new distribution centre, yacht builders, and hangars for private jets and classic old aircraft.

The airport even provides grazing land for a herd of black-and-white dairy cattle.

Stewart said the development will be an economic generator in Greater Victoria, with well-paying jobs.

Queries are already coming in from prospective tenants, he said. Tenants would be responsible for putting up their own buildings and longterm leases would be available. Lots would likely range from one to four hectacres.

“We really believe there is demand for this kind of development,” said Stewart, who expects the first buildings to be constructed next year.

The project has been given a green light by Transport Canada and the municipality.

A tender is being issued today for a subdivision site plan, infrastructure costs and requirements, and engineering requirements, and a decision is expected Aug. 15. After the costs and design come in, the proposal goes to the airport authority’s board.

On the other side of Willingdon Road, a $104-million base is being built for Canadian Forces 443 Maritime Helicopter Squadron. A creek runs around the property, which is adjacent to treed lands where a path can be built. A new bike path is being constructed around the airport site and transit stops would be extended to the area, Stewart said.

After discussions with the municipality of North Saanich, the authority has agreed to remove the topsoil from the site and relocate it to other airport lands at Mills Road and West Saanich Road. The 1.45-hectare plot is to be leased to the municipality for public use, Stewart said.

When 4.5 hectares of airport land on Mills Road was earlier developed, the topsoil was taken to North Saanich to be distributed, he said.

Geoff Dickson, president and chief executive officer of the airport authority, said the business park will expand the organization’s revenue base, helping keep terminal charges among the lowest in the country.

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