Out-of-town names on petition

A petition urging the preservation of farm land in Summerland has around 1,800 signatures, but not all are local

A petition urging the preservation of farm land in Summerland has around 1,800 signatures, but not all are Summerland residents or property owners.

Erin Carlson of Stop the Swap, a campaign to keep the farm land in the provincial Agricultural Land Reserve, said signatures are still being collected and as a result, details have not yet been compiled.

However, she added that not all names are those of Summerland residents.

Because the petition is online, names can be added by people from outside the community.

Carlson said Summerland’s proposed Urban Growth Plan is an issue of provincial importance, not a Summerland issue exclusively, since it involves the removal of land from the provincial Agricultural Land Reserve.

“This is about the farm land. The farm land is precious,” she said.

Petition forms are also available at several downtown businesses and have received considerable local support, she added.

Mayor Janice Perrino said the Urban Growth Plan is an issue for the community.

“This is not a provincial issue,” she said.

She added that the input for the plan came from numerous community meetings, workshops and other public input sources.

“It was a very involved and intense process, done by the community,” she said.

The proposed growth plan, which was presented to council on Tuesday evening, calls for the removal of 80.34 hectares within the land reserve near the core of the community.

In exchange, 91.7 hectares in the Prairie Valley area would be added to the land reserve.

The provincial Agricultural Land Commission would have to approve the land exchange.

If approved, the amount of land within the Agricultural Land Reserve in Summerland would increase by 11 hectares, from 2,824 hectares to 2,835 hectares.

The agricultural land base in Summerland would increase by 0.4 per cent.

However, the members of Stop the Swap have said the land area should not be the sole consideration.

Carlson said the land considered for removal is Class 2 and 3 farm land, with some Class 1 farm land included.

“The land we’re talking about is good for almost every kind of agriculture you can do in the Okanagan,” she said.

The land can be used for orchards. Carlson said 0.04 per cent of British Columbia’s land is suitable for tree fruit production.