Considering a land plan

Summerland’s controversial land swap application has been withdrawn, but discussions about growth and land use are far from over.

Summerland’s controversial land swap application to the Agricultural Land Commission has been withdrawn, but discussions about growth and land use are far from over.

On Monday evening, council voted to withdraw the application.

The plan called for 80.34 hectares near the core of the community to be removed from the Agricultural Land Reserve, while 91.7 hectares in the Prairie Valley area would be added to the reserve.

In 2013 and 2014, during the preparation for the plan, the municipality spent around $100,000 for consultants and for a series of open houses, workshops and other opportunities to collect input from the public.

This cost was significant and the year-long public consultation process was extensive.

Discarding the application now, without a response from the land commission, may raise questions about why so much time and money was spent on a growth plan which was discarded in this way.

At the same time, the land exchange generated plenty of opposition, including more than 1,500 Summerland signatures on a petition.

An opposition so strong must not be ignored.

The message of opposition showed itself again in the results of the Nov. 15 municipal election.

Withdrawing the application was the first step and it was something several of the new councillors had mentioned during the election campaign. But the matter has not yet been resolved.

Summerland still needs to have a workable plan to accommodate its future growth.

A strong message has been given that agricultural land must be protected, but the question of where and how to grow must still be answered.