The provincial Agricultural Land Commission must give its approval before any Summerland farm lands can be removed from the Agricultural Land Reserve.
The commission came into effect in April of 1973, to protect farm land in the province. Removing lands from the land reserve requires an application process and approval from the commission.
Mayor Janice Perrino said the commission would not approve the removal of lands near the core of the community unless other lands within Summerland could be added to the land reserve.
She added that municipal council also wanted to support agricultural land and would not have put forward a plan which would have reduced the amount of farm land in Summerland.
“We would never agree to taking land out without putting land back in,” Perrino said.
The proposed Urban Growth Plan requires the removal of 87 hectares of land from the Agricultural Land Reserve. The land to be removed is near the core of the community and in some cases, it has not been farmed for many years.
While some supporters of the land reserve have spoken out against this removal, municipal planner Ian McIntosh said other lands in the community, including some in the Prairie Valley area, will be put into the land reserve. As a result, he said there is no net loss of land within the Agricultural Land Reserve in Summerland.
Perrino said two agri-businesses have asked to have land added to the land reserve.
At present, some agricultural land is located in highly populated areas near the municipality’s core, resulting in some conflicts between farmers and urban neighbours. One farmer near the core has 114 urban neighbours, McIntosh said.
Changes to the designation of agricultural land must go through an application process through the Agricultural Land Commission.
McIntosh said municipal representatives have met with representatives of the land commission six times during formation of the growth plan.
Three of these meetings took place at the land commission’s offices and three were held in Summerland.
“They see this as supportive of farming,” McIntosh said.
Representatives from the Agricultural Land Commission in Victoria could not be reached for comment.