Future council could reverse growth plan

While the proposed Urban Growth Plan would set a new direction for growth, it would be possible for the next council to revisit the plan.

No growth plan is ever final.

While Summerland’s proposed Urban Growth Plan would set a new direction for  growth within the community, it would be possible for the next council to revisit the plan and work to amend it again.

“The Official Community Plan is a living document and can be amended at any time with a majority vote of all council,” said municipal planner Ian McIntosh.

“Technically it could be changed and the Urban Growth Boundary adjusted by any council at any time.”

The plan sets out the directions of growth for the community and must include areas designated for future growth.

Because the plan under consideration at present includes changes to the Agricultural Land Reserve boundaries, changing the plan becomes a more complex process.

A municipal government could make an application to have multiple properties included into the land reserve once again if they have been removed earlier. This is the case with the lands which are to be included in the land reserve under the present plan.

Land had been removed from the land reserve earlier to allow for the proposed Summerland Hills Golf Resort development.

The golf resort development was later abandoned and the lands removed remain undeveloped.

Mayor Janice Perrino said councils may not make decisions which are binding on subsequent councils.

“You can never fetter another council,” she said.

While the plan could come back to the table at any time, she added that she does not expect this would happen.

The plan is the result of a lengthy and comprehensive process, she said.

Throughout 2013, consultants held numerous public sessions and surveys in order to garner public input for the report.

More than 1,300 people provided input. This exceeded council’s goal of gaining feedback from at least 1,000 people.

While there has been some opposition to the proposed Urban Growth Plan, Perrino said the criticism is not about the way in which the information was gathered.

“Most people would say the process was excellent,” she said. “It’s very fair and it was very community-involved.”

Once a growth plan is adopted, the plan will likely evolve over time.

Smaller amendments to the community plan will often come before council.

These amendment requests include text amendments and map amendments to accommodate various developments.

The suggestion from the province is to revisit the Official Community Plan every five to seven years, but because of the costs involved in such a review, it is more common to review a plan every 10 years.

The cost of reviewing the Urban Growth Area has been significant.

So far, the municipality has spent roughly $90,000 on this plan.

The cost includes $60,988 for the consultants to carry out the public process, around $24,000 in staff time and around $2,000 for one trip to the Agricultural Land Commission offices and advertising for public events.

Two additional trips to the land commission came at no added cost to the municipality as they were coupled with other municipal business.

A mass mail-out to every home in Summerland cost around $5,000.

Summerland’s present community plan was adopted in 2008. That plan replaced a 1996 document.

Under provincial regulations, a community plan must include areas for future growth.