Community needs smart growth strategy

I found a community divided on how to achieve supporting agriculture, small business and having financial sustainability.

Dear Editor:

Eighteen years ago, after an absence of 40 years, I returned to a Summerland with urban sprawl, three industrial parks and a downtown that has been in a slow but progressive demise.

I found a community divided on how to achieve the common goals of supporting agriculture, small business and having financial sustainability.

Nothing has changed.

Since the early 1970s, successive councils have identified the North Victoria area as the preferred area for residential growth but, for various reasons, have been unable to incorporate much of this area into the Official Community Plan.

The distinct geographic boundaries make it the natural area for residential expansion — close to services and with reasonable development costs.

Common sense and history dictates that the closer you are to the infrastructure to begin with, the more affordable and marketable new housing will be.

It is difficult to attract buyers when development costs are too high.

This is what we have now — comparably high housing prices, no growth, limited municipal income and a financially unsustainable urban sprawl.

Further, the strategy of infilling the core residential area has been an unsuccessful experiment for 18 years. You can’t build a sustainable community one lot at a time.

Canada is not now, nor will it ever be, completely self-sufficient in agriculture.

To promote the preservation of agricultural land is a noble cause.

However, to promote the preservation of agricultural land at all costs, without any regard for the pressing needs of our Summerland community, is an uncompromising position.

It is a narrow view.

In the proposed strategy, there will be no net loss of ALR land.

This strategy will provide a 30- to 50-year build out for carefully planned neighbourhoods, affordable housing, green space and a strong economic tax base.

I urge our council to vote positively on this proposed “smart growth” strategy.

George Guernsey

Summerland