It took a couple of years and a lot of wrangling over the details, and now the proposed redevelopment of the Sandown horse racing track and grounds looks to be moving ahead.
All in all, it’s a good deal for North Saanich. The municipality retains a decent chunk of agricultural land and the property owners — the Randall family — are able to create a new commercial space on 12 acres close to the Pat Bay Highway. An estimated 156,000 square feet of retail and office space, Sandown Commons remains a few years away from completion — any ground breaking is not expected until late next year at the earliest — and that will give residents time to adjust to this new reality.
Proponents of the change are hoping the new commercial development will not be a drain on nearby communities or on the businesses in downtown Sidney.
Representatives of development firm Omicron, overseeing the project, have said they hope it will increase the overall traffic to the Peninsula — meaning everyone has the chance to benefit. Organizations like the Sidney Business Improvement Area are well-placed to take advantage of more visitors to the area with their focus on the people, products and stories behind Sidney’s business community.
While the retail sector looks to grow, there is plenty of agricultural potential next door in the remaining 83 acres of land.
There still needs to be extensive work to remediate the land and clear the structures, but people are already mulling over ideas — and have been ever since the project was floated two years ago.
North Saanich is promising public consultation on what to do with the 83 acres they have to play with and there’s plenty of time to work out the highest and best use of that agricultural land.