Vision Sandown:  Growing a Community Integrated Farm

In November 2017, the District of North Saanich advanced a key priority in the Whole Community Agricultural Strategy, by taking ownership of the Sandown Raceway property to ensure its future for local food production. Initiated in 2011, the land transfer was a complex process, needing approval from the Agricultural Land Commission (ALC). A key condition required by the ALC was the development and implementation of a site drainage and agricultural reclamation plan.

Over the next year, the 83-acre site on the north side of Glamorgan Road in North Saanich is undergoing some important changes to transform it from its days as a racetrack to a new community farm. Just north of Sidney, off the Patricia Bay Highway, the soil is rich and deep. Transforming the land from a racetrack with a grandstand, residues of asphalt paths and parking, into active foodlands and natural ecosystems will take planning and dedicated effort but the future is clearly green.

What is happening now?

Land reclamation is now underway. Platform Properties is completing the site remediation - demolishing and removing the old infrastructure. Some materials from the stables are being salvaged and stored for future use. Site remediation, following the agricultural reclamation and preliminary drainage plan prepared by Madrone Environmental Services, will be completed by autumn 2018. The District has contracted an agrologist to support this work and to collaborate with the new team developing the plan to transition the land to active food production.

The Sandown Transition Team is building on the recommendations from the Capital Region Food and Agriculture Initiatives Roundtable (CRFAIR) 2016 report, Vision Sandown: What We Heard which summarized engagement with over 500 community members on the future of the Sandown site. Between March and August 2018, the Team will create a plan, meeting with farmers, organization and future partners to provide recommendations on how to realize Vision Sandown.

The transition plan will include multiple productive farming options, from incubator plots to medium scale operation; recommend governance and revenue options, and the necessary assets to support and enhance food production in our region. The overarching goal is to create a community farm that actively contributes to our local food security, engages the community in local food systems, offers teaching and learning, and showcases the diverse onsite ecosystems.

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To connect with the Team to learn more about the current work-in-progress or to offer input, please contact info@crfair.ca. The public will also have an opportunity to provide feedback on the proposed transition plan during the North Saanich Food and Farm Festival in August 17 to 19, 2018.