Plan approval needed from land commission

Summerland’s proposed Urban Growth Plan must receive the approval of the Agricultural Land Commission before it can be adopted.

Summerland’s proposed Urban Growth Plan must receive the approval of the Agricultural Land Commission before it can be adopted.

The plan is expected to come before municipal council next month and a public hearing on the plan is expected to take place on March 3.

Since the plan includes the removal of 87 hectares from the Agricultural Land Reserve, the provincial land commission must give its approval.

The Agricultural Land Commission was established in the early 1970s in response to concerns about the loss of prime agricultural land to development.

The province’s Land Commission Act was introduced in the spring of 1973.

At the time it was created, around 4.7 million hectares, or five per cent of the province’s land, was included in the land reserve.

While the boundaries have changed over the years, the amount of land in the land reserve throughout the province is roughly the same today.

Brian Underhill, executive director of the land commission, said many factors are considered when the commission makes a ruling on agricultural land.

The quality and agricultural capability of the land in question is considered, as is the impact of the decision on adjacent agricultural properties.

The commission will also look at the reasons for the request.

“We would want to look closely at what is the justification for making the request,” Underhill said.

Community input about the plan, whether in favour or opposed, will also be considered.

“The commission certainly wishes to be aware of the views of residents in the community,” he said.

All comments and petitions presented to council for the public hearing will be forwarded to the land commission.

Underhill added that while municipal representatives have met with representatives of the land commission to discuss the proposed plan, the commission has not yet made a decision on the plan.

“No determinations have been made at this point at all,” he said.

The land commission has a mandate to preserve agricultural land within the province.

This mandate includes preserving lands which are not being farmed at present but which have the potential for future agricultural use.

He added that there are many types of farm land in the province.

Lands which may be unsuitable for one form of agriculture may work well for another agricultural purpose.

Summerland’s entire land base is 7,442 hectares. Of this, 2,824 hectares is within the land reserve.