Sandown commercial project a step closer

A $40 million commercial development at the Sandown horse racing track in North Saanich is expected to be debated by politicians on March 3

North Saanich Councillor Elsie McMurphy

A $40 million commercial development at the Sandown horse racing track in North Saanich is expected to be debated by local politicians on Monday, March 3.

Omicron, the development firm overseeing the project, has held two open houses this month on their plans for 4.85 hectares (12 acres) of the 38-hectare (85-acre) property. For one of North Saanich’s largest developments in recent years, there was a light turnout of between 60 to 70 people at each of the open houses.

Omicron spokesperson Peter Laughlin said, however, that people gave good feedback on their plans.

“The largest group of people who have been here are horse people,” he said.

They have offered suggestions including making the layout of the development reminiscent of horse stalls, to having hitching posts included in the design plans.

Others have asked for parking that would make it easier for people to walk to and from the shops on site —something that Laughlin said is being worked into the plans.

While Laughin could still not say which retailers have expressed interest in taking up some of the 40,000 square feet of proposed commercial space at the site, he did say that the recent news of the Sandown project and the Jesken Town Centre in Central Saanich coming on stream, has sparked more interest overall.

The open houses, Laughlin added, were to explain potential land uses only. The rezoning of the property still has to take place at the municipal council level.

On March 3, Laughlin said he expects the project will get a third reading and would then be able to proceed to the development permit stage. This, he continued, allows the developer to make specific site plans and would mean taking them to additional public open houses.

Omicron and the owners of the land, the Randal Family, have agreed to pay around $750,000 for land remediation — one of North Saanich’s main requirements for the project to proceed.

North Saanich also is in the process of swapping its own land to the ALR to offset the loss of the commercial area.