Re: Farm land trust proposal planted.
Coun. Daly’s assertion “there’s no demand to farm the land coming out of (the Sandown deal)” is simply untrue.
The truth is that council has never asked. When the Sandown deal was before council in early 2012, a dozen or more young farmers from local post-secondary agriculture programs implored Council to move forward with the deal, because they couldn’t find any affordable local farmland to lease. A local farmer told me that he had been unable to find land to lease because most property owners were not interested in a minimum five-year lease in case they wanted to sell.
I was also told by a District staffer a farmer had offered to lease the full 85 acres. A young farming couple said they were interested in leasing Sandown land while others wanted community garden plots. The Farmlands Trust proposed to manage the lands for the District and almost all the 400 people at a public meeting organized by the Friends of Sandown Community Farm raised their hands in support when asked if they wanted to see a municipally-owned community farm on Sandown.
All this was ignored by Daly and Team North Saanich when they voted against the proposal. A year later when the deeply flawed and highly contentious Housing Strategy Implementation Plan was presented to council, it recommended as many as 60 units per acre on Sandown. While council voted not to proceed at that time with that recommendation and the equally questionable recommendation to put higher densities on the agricultural lands at McTavish Rd. West, Daly and Coun. Browne bent over backwards to make sure the possibility of developing those areas be left open.
Team North Saanich has made it clear they’d like to see housing on Sandown. Farming doesn’t fit their development agenda, so it’s no surprise they want voters to believe there’s no demand for affordable farmland.