Land use plan would control sprawl

The municipality will consider a plan to develop land close to the core of the community in an attempt to control sprawl.

The municipality will consider a plan to develop land close to the core of the community in an attempt to control sprawl.

At the May 28 municipal council meeting, council voted to examine an urban growth strategy.

The strategy calls for development within a 10-minute walk of the downtown core at Main Street and Victoria Road.

At present, development in Summerland has included some residential pockets in agricultural areas, with some clusters of housing surrounded on most or all sides by farms.

“This leapfrogging sprawl tends to be very expensive,” said Mayor Janice Perrino.

To accommodate such residential growth, the municipality has had to extend its services great distances.

In 2008, when the latest Official Community Plan was adopted, the only area set aside for future growth was the site of the proposed Summerland Hills golf resort at the western edge of the community.

The proposed development was later abandoned, but no other areas are specified for new residential growth.

While she was on council at the time, she did not vote in favour of the Official Community Plan, which passed on a 4-3 vote.

“I thought the urban growth plan was appalling,” she said, “but at the time, it looked like the Summerland Hills project was the direction we were going.”

She added that the community plan should be reviewed every five years, since it is not a static document.

Much of the land in the proposed growth area, along Victoria Road North, Garnett Avenue and Jones Flat Road, is in the Agricultural Land Reserve. Removing it from the land reserve would require the permission of the Agricultural Land Commission.

The municipality has asked to have land removed in the past.

Earlier, a series of lots in the Bentley Road area were removed in order to allow future industrial development.

Perrino said an equally strong case could be made for removing land for residential growth,

“If we’re truly dedicated to doing the bulk of our growth within 10 minutes of the core, we will end up with some ALR conflicts,” she said.

She added that the plan, while removing some land from the land reserve, would ultimately help to preserve farm land.

“If we are going to save our best agricultural lands, we need to have them outside the core of town,” she said. “I think we should be saving our prime agricultural land for agriculture.”

Municipal treasurer Ken Ostraat said it would take around a year to examine the concept.

Coun. Robert Hacking said the public needs to offer comments about the proposed plan.

“It’s a fundamental way for the public to get involved with the direction of the community,” he said.

Coun. Lloyd Christopherson said the Climate Action Committee has discussed a similar plan to have development concentrated in the core of the community.