Land petition gains support

A petition to keep 80 hectares near the core of Summerland within the Agricultural Land Reserve has topped 2,000 signatures.

A petition to keep 80 hectares near the core of Summerland within the Agricultural Land Reserve has topped 2,000 signatures, but fewer than half are from Summerland.

By Monday, the petition had grown to more than 2,000 names, not including those from petition forms left at several Summerland businesses.

Erin Carlson, organizer of the Stop the Swap campaign, said 1,000 of the names are Summerlanders.

Concerns have been raised about the validity of the names on the petition, as well as questions about whether some of the names or email addresses have been fabricated.

Mayor Janice Perrino said the names could originate from anywhere in the world.

However, organizers of the Stop the Swap campaign say the municipality’s survey was also available to people from outside the community.

While there has been considerable opposition to the plan shown in letters and at public meetings, Perrino said she and others on municipal council are also receiving letters in support of the proposed plan.

“We’re getting lots of email the other way,” she said.

She added that the signatures on the petition will not be enough to alter the decision of the council.

“We were elected to make difficult decisions,” she said. “It would be much easier to walk away, but that’s not what we were elected to do.”

She said members of council and municipal staff have provided help with the plan.

The land exchange is part of Summerland’s proposed Urban Growth Plan.

If adopted, the pan would remove 80.34 hectares within the land reserve near the core of the community, while adding 91.7 hectares in the Prairie Valley area.

The total amount of land within the Agricultural Land Reserve in Summerland would increase from 2,824 hectares to 2,835 hectares, an increase of 11 hectares.

Those opposed to the exchange say the land in the Prairie Valley area is of a lesser quality than the land near the core of the community.