Growth plan put on hold

Summerlanders will have to wait a little longer before members of municipal council make a decision on the proposed Urban Growth Plan.

Summerlanders will have to wait a little longer before members of municipal council make a decision on the community’s proposed Urban Growth Plan.

On Monday evening, Mayor Janice Perrino announced that one or more town hall information meetings, followed by a second public hearing, will be held before council makes a decision on the controversial growth strategy.

A public hearing was held at the Arena Banquet Room on March 3.

Around 300 people attended the hearing, filling the room to capacity.

An estimated 50 people were locked out of the proceedings — a move which resulted in considerable outrage.

“No one should have been left out of the public hearing,” Perrino said.

“Those people are going to have the right to speak.”

The town hall meetings prior to the next public hearing will provide more information about the growth strategy.

The plan, as presented, calls for the removal of 80.34 hectares of land within the Agricultural 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 removal of this agricultural land has been at the centre of the controversy over the plan.

Many of the comments at the public hearing addressed this issue.

Between those who spoke at the hearing and those who presented written submissions, 154 people commented on the plan, with 110 opposed, 25 in favour and the rest not holding a position on either side of the issue.

In addition, a petition opposing the proposed growth plan was presented. The petition received more than 2,600 signatures, including 1,200 Summerland names.

Perrino said some of the comments at the hearing were based on inaccurate or incomplete information.

“I was so shocked by the misinformation the public has,” she said. “We need to have information going out to the public so they can see what we’re seeing. I want them to understand how we got to this place.”

In addition, the hearing will be held at a larger venue, in order to accommodate all who wish to attend.

“We were wrong. You cannot lock people out of a public hearing,” Perrino said, adding that nobody will be turned away from the next hearing.

A town hall meeting will be held in early April, although the date has not yet been determined.