The 4 acre lot on Mount Douglas X Road was refused the council blessing to remove it from the ALR. I can understand politically the reasoning for doing this, but as a property it is not a viable piece of land for agriculture. It is interesting that Saanich said no to this removal while Central Saanich a few years ago removed a very good 10 acre piece of land from the ALR.
As it stands, the property will be the home to a large house in an estate setting. This is the only future for the lot.
I do not think the proposed development was at all out of keeping with the neighbourhood but there did nto seem to be many benefits being offered to the municipality or neighbourhood.
A 16 house development should take the property from a value of $1 to $1.5 million to close to $5 million before a house is built. The cost of site development would not be a huge amount. If one assumes that the houses are built at a cost of $350,000 each and then sold for $800,000 each, the net profit of this development is something in the order of $6.5 million.
Saanich could have realistically requested that the developer improve regional agriculture by paying for several agricultural land titles to be consolidated. The developer would approach a farmer and pay the loss the farmer would have in the whole value of the property when titles are consolidated. The developer would then pay for a covenant on the property to ensure it can never be subdivided.
The single most important thing that can be done in this region for agriculture is to consolidate titles. We have way too many small lots in the ALR. There should be a regional goal of eventually having no lots in the CRD within the ALR of less than 20 acres and the majority larger than 80 acres.
What would help with this is if there was a change provincially that made it clear that at least 70% of any lot in the ALR was either in cultivation or open for cultivation.
One final note on the ALR in Saanich, there is a large piece of ALR in southern Saanich that is being used for a non appropriate which was banned 20 years ago. Saanich has a golf course on ALR land at Cedar Hill. Saanich should develop a plan for removing the golf course from that land and returning the land to agricultural use. Saanich is not a business out to make money, it is a local government that is supposed to be setting the standard for looking after lands properly within land use designations.
Saanich has had 20 years to pull the golf course out of the ALR but has chosen not to do so. Time to fix the inappropriate use.