Questions about the future of the former Glen Meadows Golf and Country Club have recently come to the forefront again.
North Saanich resident S. Locke Lonsdale asked the municipality last month whether it had considered the possibility of purchasing the property to “create further green space rather than see it lost forever” to future residential development.
“Obviously, the property has great potential for development as a public park and public recreation facility,” said Lonsdale. He said with adequate funding the municipality could also re-establish the property as a functioning golf course and a curling rink, “all of which would bring in revenues” to North Saanich. “The potential seems enormous.”
The Criddle family opened the course in the late 1950s after having purchased it as farmland. Devoncore Reality currently lists the property at $5.12 million as part of a court-ordered sale.
Much of it (some 129 acres) lies inside the Agricultural Land Reserve (ALR) with a smaller portion (2.3 acres) zoned residential.
Mayor Geoff Orr agreed with Lonsdale’s assessment that the property is in a “lamentable state” but also pointed to provisions limiting potential uses.
“Primary use of ALR land for park or recreation facilities is specifically forbidden,” said Orr. “The current recreational and meeting facilities on-site were only allowed to be built because they were in support of the golf course operations as a non-farm use.”
Martin Collins, director of policy and planning for the Agricultural Land Commission (ALC), said the property could be used for recreation but not in the way imagined by Lonsdale.
“A open land park is permitted outright in the ALR for passive recreation,” he said. “This means no improvements such as playing fields and leaving nature to its own courses.”
Or as Collins said later, “letting the trees and grass grow wild.” Any other park and recreation activities would require non-farm use approval.
Collins also confirmed another complication described by Orr. If non-farm uses have ceased for more than six months (unless ALC approved), owners must submit a non-farm use application.
The property stopped operating as a course in 2018 after private interests had purchased the property from the Criddles, only to disappear, eventually triggering the court-ordered sale.
Lonsdale’s letter points to Saanich, which recently launched a campaign to help raise $1 million to create a new regional park. He said North Saanich could follow the example of Saanich, which operates Cedar Hill Golf Course. Orr’s letter acknowledged its popularity, but also pointed out that its annual expenditures ($2.7 million in 2019) exceeds revenues by $460,000.
“Saanich funds this revenue shortfall through a reserve fund transfer,” said Orr, adding Saanich’s example does not reflect the “significant investment” necessary to bring the course back to standards.
Orr said the municipality is monitoring the court ordered sale and exploring opportunities as they emerge.
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