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

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

A tip from the public helped Victoria police located and arrest wanted men Jonathon Muzychka and Dean Reber. (Courtesy of Victoria Police Department)
Tips lead police to arrest convicted killer, robber near downtown Victoria

Two men were at large after failing to return to community facility

A Cessna 170 airplane similar to the one pictured above is reported to be missing off the waters between Victoria and Washington State. Twitter photo/USCG
UPDATE: No sign of small plane that went down in Juan de Fuca Strait

Searchers out on both sides of border between Victoria and Port Angeles

Leila Bui with her parents Tuan (left) and Kairry Nguyen on Jan. 27, 2020 after Tenessa Nikirk was found guilty for striking Bui in a Saanich crosswalk. (Nina Grossman/News Staff)
Driver convicted of dangerous driving after hitting Leila Bui out on bail

Tennesa Nikirk was convicted for striking then 11-year-old Leila Bui with her car

Local cyclist Max McCulloch catches air off a jump in the newly redesigned Organ Donor trail at Mount Work mountain biking park. (Travis Paterson/News Staff)
Mountain bikers lining up for Hartland’s newest trail

Revamped black diamond run ‘what the community needed’

(Twitter/Ateachersaurus)
The Pachena Bay shoreline in 2013. (Twitter/Ateachersaurus)
This week in history: 9.0 magnitude quake struck under what is now called Vancouver Island

According to First Nations elders, the 9.0-magnitude quake in 1700 CE kick-started a tsunami

SAR crews worked late into the night Tuesday to rescue an injured snowboarder in North Vancouver. (Facebook/North Shore Rescue)
Complicated, dangerous rescue saves man in avalanche near Cypress Mountain

North Shore SAR team braves considerable conditions to reach injured snowboarder

The Pacific Rim Whale Festival is breaching for a COVID-safe return in March. (Poster photo by Owen Crosby)
Pacific Rim Whale Festival aims for virtual return in March

Educational celebration scheduled to arrive in Tofino-Ucluelet on March 15.

In this undated image made from a video taken by the Duke of Sussex and posted on @SaveChildrenUK by the Duke of Sussex and Meghan, Duchess of Sussex, shows the Duchess of Sussex reading the book “Duck! Rabbit!” to their son Archie who celebrates his first birthday on Wednesday May 6, 2020. The Canadian Paediatric Society is reminding families that the process of raising a reader starts from birth. (Duke of Sussex/@SaveChildrenUK)
Canadian Paediatric Society says raising a reader starts from birth

CPS says literacy is one of the strongest predictors of lifelong health outcomes

Employment, Workforce Development and Disability Inclusion Minister Carla Qualtrough responds to a question during a news conference Thursday August 20, 2020 in Ottawa. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Easing rules for parental benefits created inequities among parents, documents say

Employment Minister Carla Qualtrough’s office says the government will make any necessary changes

People walk along a pedestrianized zone of Sainte-Catherine street in Montreal, Monday, May 18, 2020, as the COVID-19 pandemic continues in Canada and around the world. Newly released statistics point to a major drop in police-recorded crime during the first eight months of the COVID-19 pandemic. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Graham Hughes
Crime down in first 8 months of pandemic, but mental health calls rise: StatCan

The agency says violent crimes such as assault dropped significantly

Cash and drugs allegedly found in a suspect’s possession following an arrest earlier this month in downtown Nanaimo. (Photo submitted)
Accused drug dealer arrested in Nanaimo carrying $20K, fentanyl, crack and meth

Terrance Virus, 39, being held in custody, scheduled to appear in court Feb. 1

(Pixabay)
B.C. teacher gets 1 day suspension after ‘aggressively’ throwing dumbbell at student

Documents show the weight would have hit the student if they didn’t catch it

This 2020 electron microscope image provided by the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases - Rocky Mountain Laboratories shows SARS-CoV-2 virus particles which cause COVID-19, isolated from a patient in the U.S., emerging from the surface of cells cultured in a lab. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP, NIAID-RML
B.C. ramping up screening for faster-spreading COVID-19 ‘variants of concern’

B.C. has sequenced about 11,000 COVID-positive samples since last February

Most Read