Land plan will be council’s decision

When the time comes for a decision on Summerland’s Urban Growth Plan, it will be made by municipal council, not through a referendum.

When the time comes for a decision on Summerland’s Urban Growth Plan, it will be made by those at the municipal council table, not through a referendum process.

Mayor Janice Perrino said a referendum is used for significant borrowing, not for decisions about land use.

“We’ve never had a referendum on a land use issue,” she said. “It’s what we elect a council to do.”

The last time Summerlanders went to the polls for a referendum was in October, 2010 when a decision was made on borrowing up to $3.125 million for the $4.5 million RCMP building.

While the decision will be made by those present at the council table, council and municipal staff have already received much input from the public on the growth plan.

During 2013, the municipality hired consultants to work on a land use report. The consultants held numerous meetings and open houses and had opportunities available through surveys and online questionnaires to gather public opinions and input.

In the end, around 1,300 provided their comments.

This is significantly higher than the municipality’s goal of receiving feedback from at least 1,000 in the community.

Further opportunities for input are still available.

A public hearing on the growth plan must take place before the plan is adopted.

This hearing is expected to take place at a February council meeting.

“There are always ample opportunities for people to have their say,” Perrino said.

While the decision on the growth plan must be made at the council table, not all those elected to council will be able to vote on it.

Coun. Bruce Hallquist and Coun. Lloyd Christopherson may not be present in council chambers during the hearings, the discussions or the vote on this plan, since both own land which would be affected by the decision.

Of the remaining five members, four voted in support of the report when it was presented to council in December. The dissenting vote was from Coun. Peter Waterman.

Waterman’s opposition was over the amount of land which would be removed from the Agricultural Land Reserve if the plan is approved.

The plan calls for the removal of 87 hectares of land from the land reserve and close to the core of the community.

Meanwhile, a larger amount of land in the Prairie Valley area would be added to the provincial land reserve.

A copy of the full 95-page report can be found on the municipality’s website at http://summerland.ca/docs/community%20planning/Summerland%20UGS%20FINAL%20REPORT.pdf.