Farmlands Trust wants Sandown land for $1

Society asks North Saanich council to consider lease or purchase deal to allow farming on Sandown

The Farmlands Trust delivered another letter to North Saanich council, offering more details on its request to manage the land at the former Sandown race track.

“We have no other wish than to see this valuable property restored to a condition that benefits all peoples of the region,” Ed Johnson, chair of the Farmlands Trust, wrote in the letter.

It included two options for council: to lease or to buy the property.

The first option asks North Saanich to lease the property to the trust for 30 to 40 years, at $1 per year, plus contribute $100,000 toward fencing or some other capital expenditure.

The second asks to purchase the land from the district for $1.

Under both options, the trust offered to take on all requests made by the Agricultural Land Commission and the associated costs. The trust wants the current land owner, Bill Randall, to contribute $100,000 to the trust and pay for cleanup of environmental hazards.

The letter also states the offer expires April 11.

“They seemed to be leaning towards the lease,” Johnson said.

Council unanimously agreed to include the letter in its package of information about Sandown.

“I’m not in favour of the option two,” Coun. Dunstan Browne said. “If there is anything to be achieved my preference is that we loan the land that we are swapping.”

Mayor Alice Finall said council will first need to agree to acquire the 83 acres of land from Randall before agreeing to any terms for the land’s use.

“Until we decide we are going to decide to acquire the land, we are not in a position to do a meaningful or complete discussion on uses for the land.”


The back story

Bill Randall would give 83 acres of land to the district in exchange for zoning 12 acres of land to commercial, for development.

The Sandown proposal was initiated by the district and includes terms, such as signing a memorandum of understanding with the Agricultural Land Commission and covenants that would lock the land into the Agricultural Land Reserve in perpetuity. These terms have not been agreed to by council.

Municipal staff have estimated costs associated with the property, as requested by the ALC, at almost $700,000. The Farmlands Trust has offered to assume some of these costs.