N. Saanich’s Glen Meadows golf course could be farm again

Glen Meadows Golf and Country Club could be returning to its agricultural roots.

A plan is in the works to turn the former farm — home to a golf course since 1965 — back into a food-producing operation.

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The doesn’t mean the golf course, owned by the Criddle family, is going to shut down any time soon, said consultant Mark Johnston.

“It would take 18 months to go through some sort of process, it’s a year or two from even knowing anything,” he said. “At that point, [the Criddles] will have the option of determining do they want to keep operating or do they want to do something else that they’re now permitted to do.”

Johnston said he was approached by the Criddles about eight months ago to look into whether the 130-acre property, which is in the Agricultural Land Reserve, could be used for another purpose. “It’s been operated by the family, and the family’s not getting younger.”

Johnston said he talked with Agricultural Land Commission staff and was told the Glen Meadows plan is unique in B.C. “They said to me I’m the first person since the commission was established to walk through the door with a proposal to turn a golf course back into a farm.”

A letter from the Criddles to members of Glen Meadows, which added curling and tennis during its first decade, said membership numbers have been going down. “The time has come that we need to look at some possible alternatives,” the letter said. “These processes do not happen overnight, so in the meantime we plan to continue the day-to-day operations as normal.”

The Criddles said Glen Meadows has created “49 years of wonderful memories” and they would love to create more wonderful memories as regular business continues.

Johnston said an application for rezoning and an official community plan amendment for the property has been made to the municipality of North Saanich. “The general proposal is to return it to produce food locally.”

The plan calls for some subdivision, Johnston said, but all of the houses would have a footprint on farmable lots.

“At the end of the day, 85 or 90 per cent of the land, even with the housing, is still returned to food production,” he said.

“You would be returning a 130-acre golf course that no one gets any food off of now back to food production to feed probably a couple [of] thousand people.”

North Saanich Mayor Alice Finall said she has heard general details of the plan, and expects it to come before council within a few weeks. She said a return to agricultural activity at Glen Meadows is “a lovely idea.”

“It sounds tremendously exciting to me.”

She noted the municipality reached an agreement last month for the former Sandown race track that also has a significant agricultural component. A 140,000-square-foot project, most of it retail, was approved in conjunction with 83 acres of land being donated by the developer for use in agricultural activities.

jwbell@timescolonist.com

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