The District of North Saanich is launching a Request For Expressions of Interest (RFEI) to look for parties interested in operating the Sandown Agricultural Lands.
Applicants with demonstrated experience in agriculture, agricultural business and community activities related to agriculture are invited to respond. The District says any interested parties should apply and provide details of their proposals for the management of the 83-acre site by May 3.
“Council appreciates the challenges and opportunities associated with the preservation and enhancement of agricultural lands in North Saanich,” says North Saanich Mayor Geoff Orr.
The Sandown Agricultural Lands are located at 1776 Glamorgan Rd., west of Sidney, near the Pat Bay Highway. In November 2017, the District took ownership of some of the land that formed the Sandown Raceway and designated it for agricultural use.
The land transfer started in 2011 and was a complex process requiring approval from the Agricultural Land Commission (ALC). A key condition required by the ALC was the development and implementation of a reclamation plan to transform the land from a racetrack into agricultural land. The reclamation plan has mostly been implemented and the RFEI is the next step in Council’s process to determine the future long-term use of the site.
The length of time and conflicting views of what should be specifically done on the land and how it should be managed has caused disquiet among some farmers. Some in the agricultural community question how land will be allocated to interested parties and how exactly the land will be managed. They ask, for instance, will it include non-farming commercial interests or small-scale allotments?
The District says the invitation for RFEI will inform its decisions regarding these issues. Final plans will be developed later in the year.
“We acknowledge that there are varied opinions within the agricultural community as to how best to move forward with the Sandown Agricultural Lands. Council looks forward to receiving the results of the RFEI process and will take a measured approach to agricultural investment decisions moving forward.”
Details about the RFEI, including how to apply are available at northsaanich.ca or the BC Bid website at bcbid.gov.bc.ca. More information on the Sandown property is available at northsaanich.ca/sandown.