W̱SĺḴEM (Tseycum) meaning "land of clay" in SENĆOŦEN is one of the First Nations that constitute the W̱SÁNEĆ peoples, who have stewarded these lands and waters since time immemorial.
Geographically, the Sandown site sits between two village sites: the original Tseycum village on the east side of the peninsula, and the later village site on the west side, where the Tseycum community lives today. Following colonization and the displacement of the W̱SÁNEĆ peoples, North Saanich became a place for agricultural activity, and this site became part of the 500-acre Glamorgan Farm.
In 1952, construction began on the Sandown Racetrack which operated from 1955 to 2008. Many North Saanich residents have stories and memories of the rack track, and indeed, we have found a number of souvenir horse shoes, beer bottles, cans, and countless other artifacts from this time. The viability of the racetrack declined over time, and in 2011 the owners made a deal with the District of North Saanich to rezone 12 acres of agricultural land into the current commercial park in exchange for transferring the remaining 83 acres to the municipality.
In 2014, the District of North Saanich approved the transfer of this ALR land to the municipality as part of the priority actions in the District's Agricultural Strategy. After a period of community consultation and input called ‘Vision Sandown’ (led by the local food organization CRFAIR), land title was transferred in November 2017. There was strong community sentiment for Sandown to serve as a site for local food production, education, and stewardship and restoration. From this, the vision for the Sandown Centre for Regenerative Agriculture (SCRA) emerged and the lease was signed in 2019.
Given the history of the horse race tracks and roadways, the soil at Sandown remains heavily compacted and degraded. Restoration is a key component of our work towards regenerative agriculture.