Changing course at Glen Meadows

A land deal, similar to the redevelopment of the Sandown horse racing track in North Saanich, is taking shape at the Glen Meadows Golf Club.

A land deal, similar to the redevelopment of the Sandown horse racing track in North Saanich, is taking shape at the Glen Meadows Golf Club.

On April 28, development consultant Mark Johnston will hold an open house at the Glen Meadows clubhouse from 6 to 8 p.m. for club members and neighbours of the 130-acre property. On the table is a plan to return the majority of the property, including the golf course, to farm land.

A proposal working its way toward the District of North Saanich incudes gifting 100 acres to the municipality while the owners develop housing and additional agricultural land on the remaining 30 acres.

Johnston says he was asked by the Criddle family, owners of Glen Meadows since 1965, to come up with blueprints for the site.

“Eighty to 90 per cent of it will go back to agricultural use,” Johnston said. “The Criddle family wants to subdivide what’s left to get the value out of the land.”

Those proposed lots, he explained, would be part of a strata and have a portion of each property earmarked for a rural agricultural neighbourhood — or urban farming. Johnston said this could be as much as 20 acres of the subdivided property.

“We have a model that we think works.”

Johnston said that the strata, under this proposal, would collect its fees, some of which could be used to hire a farmer should residents in the new subdivision not want to work the land themselves. With cost of farmland being a barrier to new farmers, Johnston said this idea could be a solution. He added there are plans to also contribute $100,000 to a farm capital fund through the strata, enabling new farmers to get the land ready to work.

Johnston admitted, however, nothing is written in stone. They are starting with this concept and taking it initially to neighbours and club members.

Should the project proceed, golfers, curlers and tennis players would be displaced. For now, Johnston said, it’s business as usual as any redevelopment process could take two years or more.

“If we’re successful, it means there won’t be any golf any more, but it’s not going to happen quickly.”

North Saanich Mayor Alice Finall  said she’s heard only initial reports about the Glen Meadows project, as it has not yet come before council. Johnston said he has given District staff the plans.

Finall said she has heard there could be as many as 33 residential lots with the agricultural component, with the balance of the land given to the District.

In the case of the Sandown property, its owners, the Randall family, gifted 83 acres of agricultural land to the municipality and in exchange are looking to develop 12 acres into a commercial shopping area.

“There is some similarity to Sandown,” Finall said. “But it’s at an early stage and would need to go to the Agricultural Land Commission.”

Finall said the Glen Meadows proposal is interesting and looks good, yet there is still a public process and community input to consider.

“It’s early days and we need a lot more detail.”