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Agricultural Land Commission approves Sandown land swap

The Sandown proposal is trotting into its next phase after a positive decision from the Agricultural Land Commission.

The commission has approved North Saanich's proposal to swap some land in the Agricultural Land Reserve, a key first step in the plan to move the former racetrack into district hands.

The multi-faceted proposal aims to have no net loss of agricultural land. It would see just over 12 acres of district-owned land located near the municipal hall on Mills Road moved into the land reserve. In exchange, 12 acres of the Sandown property situated close to McDonald Park Road would be removed from the ALR.

"It's the first step and it's the big step, because if the ALC had not approved it, we go no further," said Mayor Alice Finall.

The proposal also includes transfer of the remaining 83-acre parcel on the Sandown property to municipal ownership, removing commercial zoning on that land, and registering a covenant on the title to ensure that the land remains in agricultural use in perpetuity.

The 12 acres adjacent to McDonald Park Road would be rezoned to allow for commercial development and higher density residential.

"The next (step), of course, is the approval by the Capital (Regional District). They need to look at how it affects our regional context statement and whether or not it's something they approve (of)," Finall said.

The CRD board will consider whether to approve altering boundaries for the North Saanich servicing area in the regional context plan, to allow for inclusion of those 12 acres. "It's a boundary adjustment. There's no net increase or decrease in area," Finall explained.

She expects the proposal to be on the CRD board's agenda in mid-December.

"Then of course there's the next step. We've had two big public meetings already. The next step would be a public hearing."

reporter@peninsulanewsreview.com

Did you know:

The District of North Saanich has an offer of soil from the Victoria International Airport. The topsoil from the airport lands would be used to remediate the Sandown property.

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