Tuesday, April 03, 2012

North Saanich says No to the Sandown Deal

I am glad to hear that North Saanich council has voted against the land swap deal with the owners of the Sandown property.   I raised my concerns about the proposal in December and then again January.

I look at the relative risks and costs to North Saanich and I wonder why the council was willing to entertain such a liability. The benefits seemed ephemeral and distant at best.

One of the biggest aspects that remained unanswered was how the land would be managed and to what purpose.   I fail to see how this land could be usefully managed for agriculture being owned by the municipality. The whole property being operated by a single farmer is likely too small to be a viable farming operation.   The pie in the sky ideas of allotments for new farmers, educational activities and other ideas for the land.   I do not think the municipality could recover the operating costs of the land.  

Publicly owned land is not going to make for a good agricultural operation but at the same time removes a potential functional property from the agricultural community in this region.

This proposal only makes sense if 100% of the risk is taken on board by the current owner.   The financial benefit to the owner is significant from the the re-zoning.  There is more than enough money in re-zoning for the owner to still make a decent profit.  

Adding the municipal land to the remaining Sandown land should be done by purchase by the current owner.   The remaining agricultural land should be amalgamated into a single lot and then the owner be allowed to sell it.  North Saanich gains a lot more through this.   It does not have the risks associated with the proposal as it was but at the same time North Saanich gets more in taxes.
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