Brewery planned at Central Saanich driving range

Owners applying for new designation to allow craft brewery, distillery.

Valerie Lindholm with her dog at what was Island View Golf Centre.

After continuously passing the large, abandoned nets on the side of the highway on the way into Sidney, Valerie and Mark Lindholm decided to buy what was Island View Golf Centre, and they  have big plans for it.

The pair plan to turn the former driving range into a distillery and craft brewery.

They have submitted their application for zoning change to the District of Central Saanich, along with an application to the Agricultural Land Commission to seek new uses on the property.

Valerie said the land was overgrown and needed a lot of work.

The plan is to see the existing mini-golf course improved and running by this spring.

The large green space stretching from the clubhouse to the Pat Bay Highway, Lindholm said, will be a crop, most likely barley, but they will wait and see.

There will be fruit trees along the sides, some nectarines and apples and barley, to help supply their planned small operation.

The two became owners of the 10-acre property last summer. The land is already categorized as agricultural but it’s zoning is specifically for golf. Lindholm said they are hoping to change the zoning to A1, which is strictly agricultural.

“We’ve had an agrologist report which is essential to change the zoning to A1, agricultural level one, and he says it is fertile soil and can produce a variety of crops and produces its own water,” she said adding, “so at one point I hope we’ll be looking as good as Michell’s (across the highway).”

A special entitlement is also being requested to allow a craft distillery and brewery, along with the 18-hole mini-golf course. Having picked up many golfballs over the summer, Lindhom said they will not be doing a driving range, keeping it just for mini-golf.

To help level five berms on the property, the acreage has been tilled by a local farmer, which Lindholm said has helped lift a lot of stuff up.

“There were … many blackberries, you could pick pounds out of it. So it’s really come a long way,” she said.

Lindholm said neighbours have been supportive of the plan, including Silver Rill Corn, their next door neighbours who she heard picked up 10,000 golf balls, throwing them on the floor of Central Saanich council at one point.

“It shows a level of frustration,” she said of the area’s farming community regarding its conflict with neighbours. “People are trying to make a living …  a tough living … an essential living,” she said. “And that’s the thing — is it essential for life — and this golfing is something people do for fun and to have them cross like that in a negative way, it just spoils everybody’s living experience.”

The land will be tilled again and seeded with barley in early March, which Lindholm said could potentially be used for the future brewery.

They are looking at early 2018 for the new business if approvals come through.

“It’s nice to be part of a community. I’m really enjoying that farm community.”