Sandown Agricultural Lands
The Sandown Agricultural Lands, formerly part of the Sandown Racetrack, was transferred to the District in 2017 to be used as a community asset. The District’s vision is for the 83 acres to be used for sustainable food production for the benefit of the region.
The District and the Circular Farm and Food Society: Vancouver Island (Circular Farm) have signed a lease agreement for long-term operation of the Sandown Agricultural Lands.
Find out more about Circular Farm’s Sandown Centre for Regenerative Agriculture: sandowncentre.com
Long-term Lease Agreement
View the Operating Lease Agreement.
The agreement includes:
- Circular Farm will provide a range of programming and services on the Sandown Lands including:
- community gardens
- Farmpreneur Supported Incubator Plot program, to support emerging farmers
- water and soil sampling
- showcase for soil regeneration using managed intensive pasture grazing
- host workshops, events and programs
- Term (10 years): from the date of signing to December 31, 2030
- Funding: The District will provide funding to Circular Farm for the first three years:
- 2020 – $135,000
- 2021 – $125,000
- 2022 – $125,000
Search for an Operator
The search for a suitable, long-term operator for the Sandown Agricultural Lands began in 2019 with a Request for Expressions of Interests (RFEI). The RFEI invited applicants with demonstrated experience in agriculture, agricultural business and community activities related to agriculture to respond. Two proposals were received by the May 2019 deadline. The RFEI process was re-opened to extend the opportunity for response to the end of August 2019, resulting in one re-submission and three additional proposals.
On October 28, 2019, Council considered the responses to the RFEI, as well as other options for use of the lands. (View summaries of the RFEI responses and other options in the October staff report). Council directed staff to request proposals from two of the proponents: Gobind Farms and the Sandown Centre for Regenerative Agriculture. All other RFEI responses were removed from consideration.
The two proposals for long-term operators, Gobind Farms and the Sandown Centre for Regenerative Agriculture, were received in February 2020. View the April 2020 staff report assessing the proposals.
On May 4, Council rose and reported that they had received a letter from the Tseycum First Nation expressing an interest in the Sandown Lands. Council proceeded to choose the Sandown Centre for Regenerative Agriculture to move forward in discussions with the District subject to determining further information with respect to the Tseycum situation.
View the Letter from the Tseycum First Nation.
About the Sandown Property
Prior to being subdivided, the Sandown property ran along the north side of Glamorgan Road between McDonald Park Road and Littlewood Road. The land was used for farming until 1955 when the Sandown Racetrack was opened. The last races were held in 2005. In 2011, the owners declared that the existing operations were no longer economically viable, and they expressed interest rezoning the 95 acres of land.
Rezoning & Transfer of Lands
The rezoning application, submitted in 2011, involved subdividing the land. The parcel fronting McDonald Park Road would be removed from the Agricultural Land Reserve (ALR) and converted into commercial development. The remaining 83 acres of land would remain in the ALR and be transferred to the District to be used as a community asset. In order to ensure no net loss of land in the ALR, the District would provide 12 acres of municipal land to be added to the ALR.
In November 2011, the Agricultural Land Commission (ALC) granted conditional approval to remove the 12 acres of land in exchange for including the 12 acres of municipal land. A key condition for approval was the development and implementation of a site drainage and agricultural reclamation plan.
In 2014, the Official Community Plan was amended to allow for the commercial development and the rezoning was adopted.
In 2017, the Agricultural Reclamation and Drainage Plan was completed, the site was subdivided and the 83 acre agricultural parcel was transferred to the District.
In 2019, work to reclaim the site to general agricultural status was completed.
Sandown Consultation and Transition Team Report
In 2015 – 16, the District engaged the Capital Region Food and Agriculture Initiatives Roundtable (CRFAIR) to consult with the local community on their vision and priorities for the Sandown lands. The 2016 CRFAIR report, Vision Sandown: What We Heard, summarized engagement with over 500 community members. It provides a vision and values for the land and next steps to guide development of the land as a community agriculture resource.
In 2018, CRFAIR was contracted to form a Sandown Transition Team to create a transition plan for the Sandown Agricultural Lands. The Team delivered the plan, entitled “Sandown Community Farm”. The following recommendations from the team were reviewed by Council but have not been formally approved.
Documents and Reports
- Staff Report (Apr 21/20): Assessment of LTO Proposals
- Circular Farm and Food Society: Vancouver Island Proposal
- Gobind Farms Inc., Proposal
- Closure of Reclamation Activities Letter
- RFEI – Long Term Operator Sandown Lands
- Staff Report (Dec 11/19): Sandown Draft RFP
- Staff Report (Oct 24/19): Sandown Agricultural Lands – Long Term Operation
- Staff Report (Sep 9/19): Sandown Agricultural Lands – Long Term Operation
- Staff Report (Aug 13/19): Sandown Agricultural Lands – Long Term Operator Evaluation Criteria
- Staff Report (Jun 18/19): Sandown Agricultural Lands – Long Term Operation
- Staff Report (Mar 11/19): Sandown Agricultural Lands – Request for Expressions of Interest
- Press Release: North Saanich Council Approves Sandown Reclamation and Drainage Plan
- Staff Report (Oct 12/17): McDonald Park Road Drain and Sandown Drainage
- Staff Report (Jan 4/17): Sandown Buildings
Photos are available of Sandown aerial maps 1946 – 2013 as well as the stable and grandstand demolition photos.