Jen Rashleigh, director of partner and community engagement for Circular Farm, here seen in late August, says the Sandown Centre for Regenerative Agriculture, will become a “community hub for agriculture” after agreeing in principle with the District of North Saanich to operate the site. (Wolf Depner/News Staff)

Jen Rashleigh, director of partner and community engagement for Circular Farm, here seen in late August, says the Sandown Centre for Regenerative Agriculture, will become a “community hub for agriculture” after agreeing in principle with the District of North Saanich to operate the site. (Wolf Depner/News Staff)

North Saanich agrees on operator, with financial support, for Sandown Agricultural Lands

Agreement with Circular Farm runs for 10 years

The long search for a new operator of lands once used for horse racing in North Saanich has come to an end.

The District of North Saanich and Circular Farm and Food: Vancouver Island have agreed in principle to lease terms for the Sandown Agricultural Lands.

The agreement — which requires final council ratification — would see Circular Farm supply a range of programming and services on 83 acres. Programs include community gardens and an incubator pilot program to support emerging farmers.

Jen Rashleigh, director of partner and community engagement for Circular Farm, said in a release that her organization sees the site as a place to “support and foster” future farmers while strengthening the local food supply and enhancing bio-diversity among other goals.

The agreement runs for 10 years with the municipality providing funding for the first three years, starting with $135,000 in 2020, followed by $125,000 each for 2021 and 2022.

RELATED: North Saanich’s Sandown lands to become ‘agricultural-focused community centre

The agreement concludes the municipality’s lengthy search for an operator of the lands, which formally passed into municipal hands in 2017. The complex transfer of the former horse track lands started in 2011.

The municipality officially started searching for an operator in the fall of 2019 when six interested parties submitted proposals. Other options before council included selling the lot or keeping it.

Mayor Geoff Orr referenced this history in his comments when he described the “transformation” of the former horse race track as a “complicated, challenging, rewarding, and visionary” process.

“Council looks forward to monitoring the progress of the many programs and initiatives contemplated by the Circular Farm Society as they work toward establishing the Sandown Centre for Regenerative Agriculture,” he said.

RELATED:North Saanich whittles down search for farmland operator to two

Circular Farm has not always enjoyed unanimous support around the council table and the community-at-large with critics having scrutinized the financial aspect of the bid.

Rebecca Penz, the municipality’s manager of communication, points to several provisions in the agreement that protect the municipality against financial claims by third parties.

wolfgang.depner@peninsulanewsreview.com

Just Posted

The Victoria International Airport saw its revenues plummet in 2020. Officials hope a proposed warehouse will be a significant revenue generator. (Black Press Media file photo)
Head of Victoria Airport Authority makes economic pitch for Sidney warehouse project

Geoff Dickson said Sidney stands to earn $325,000 in annual taxes

Protesters seen here rallying against the injunction order on April 1. (Black Press Media file photo)
RCMP enforce injunction at Fairy Creek blockade

Protesters can remain but police will ensure open access for loggers

The Greater Victoria School District has postponed its budget vote until further notice and will be seeking help from an independent advisor on how to proceed. (Black Press Media file photo)
SD61 budget vote postponed until further notice

District requesting independent advisor to help review process, make recommendations

A building in the 300-block of Mary Street sustained significant damage Saturday night after a suspicious fire was started. Police arrested an arson suspect Sunday. (Courtesy of Victoria Fire Department)
UPDATE: Vic West shelter resident to be evicted following suspicious fire

Building in 300-block of Mary Street sustained significant damage Saturday night

Discarded construction materials make up nearly 40 per cent of all materials sent to the landfill from sources in the city of Victoria. (Zero Waste Victoria)
Victoria looks to curb construction waste

Victoria wants to see buildings deconstructed instead of demolished

Conservation Service Officer Kyle Bueckert holds a gold eagle that was revived from acute rodent poisoning Monday, May 12. Photo: Submitted
‘Obviously, he’s a fighter’: Golden eagle, recovered from poisoning, back in Kootenay wild

CSO Kyle Bueckert released the eagle into the wild Thursday, May 13

Capt. Jenn Casey died in a crash just outside of Kamloops, B.C., on May 17, 2020. (CF Snowbirds)
Snowbirds to honour Capt. Casey, who died in B.C. crash, in 2021 tour

Tour will kick off in Ontario in June before heading west

A pedestrian wearing a mask to curb the spread of COVID-19 is bundled up for the cold weather as snow falls in downtown Vancouver on Saturday, February 13, 2021.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
Snow possible in mountain passes as cold front hits southern B.C.

Much of B.C.’s southern interior will see temperatures plunge from highs of 30 C reached over the weekend

A fledgling white raven was spotted near the end of Winchester Road in Coombs. (Mike Yip photo)
Legend continues as iconic white raven spotted once again on Vancouver Island

Sightings rare everywhere in world except for central Vancouver Island location

A vial of AstraZeneca vaccine is seen at a mass COVID-19 vaccination clinic in Calgary, Alta., Thursday, April 22, 2021. Dr. Ben Chan remembers hearing the preliminary reports back in March of blood clots appearing in a handful of European recipients of the Oxford-AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh
Science on COVID, VITT constantly changing: A look at how doctors keep up

While VITT can represent challenges as a novel disorder, blood clots themselves are not new

Poached trees that were taken recently on Vancouver Island in the Mount Prevost area near Cowichan, B.C. are shown on Sunday, May 10, 2021. Big trees, small trees, dead trees, softwoods and hardwoods have all become valuable targets of tree poachers in British Columbia as timber prices hit record levels. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jen Osborne.
Tree poaching from public forests increasing in B.C. as lumber hits record prices

Prices for B.C. softwood lumber reached $1,600 for 1,000 board feet compared with about $300 a year ago

The warm weather means time for a camping trip, or at least an excursion into nature. How much do you know about camps and camping-related facts? (John Arendt - Summerland Review)
QUIZ: Are you ready to go camping?

How many camp and camping-related questions can you answer?

On Friday, May 14 at Meadow Gardens Golf Club in Pitt Meadows, Michael Caan joined a very elite club of golfers who have shot under 60 (Instagram)
Crowds at English Bay were blasted with a large beam of light from an RCMP Air-1 helicopter on Friday, May 14. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Marc Grandmaison
Police enlist RCMP helicopter to disperse thousands crowded on Vancouver beach

On Friday night, police were witness to ‘several thousand people staying well into the evening’

Most Read