Planning commission rejects growth strategy

The members of Summerland’s Advisory Planning Commission want council to reject the proposed Urban Growth Plan.

The members of Summerland’s Advisory Planning Commission want council to reject the proposed Urban Growth Plan and to keep land near the core of the community within the Agricultural Land Reserve.

On Friday morning, the commission met to consider the proposed plan and to make its recommendations to council.

The plan calls for the removal of 80.34 hectares of land within the land reserve near the core of the community, but adds 91.7 hectares in the Prairie Valley area.

Members of the public at the meeting urged the commission to reject the land exchange.

“The land will be good for agriculture forever,” said Erin Carlson, who has also organized a petition to keep the land within the land reserve. “Our future is agriculture.”

Mike Holler said the land within the land reserve must be used for food production, not as a land repository.

“The Agricultural Land Reserve was never meant to be a holding system,” he said. “It’s there to feed the people.”

Julie Blagborne said farm land is needed for food production, especially since other parts of the world are losing their ability to produce an adequate food supply.

“We’re going to have to feed our own people,” she said. “The buildings should go up the hill, not on arable land.”

Members of the planning commission also stated their opposition to the removal of agricultural land.

“The Agricultural Land Reserve is a reserve of agricultural land, not a place to put land until someone wants to develop it,” said Ken Haddrell, a member of the commission.

“The land should stay in the Agricultural Land Reserve,” said Frank Kappel, another commission member.

Linda Beaven, another member of the commission, said the proposed boundary changes are not beneficial to agriculture.

She said the plan calls for the removal of good quality agricultural land and the inclusion of lower quality agricultural land.

Commission chair Carla Ohmenzetter said the present urban growth boundary is too large and cumbersome.

“I would support a smaller urban growth area,” she said.

Mayor Janice Perrino said she was disappointed but not surprised by the Advisory Planning Commission’s decision.

She said the previous growth plans, in the 1996 Official Community Plan and the 2008 plan make it difficult for development to proceed.

She added that any land use plan will result in opposition from a segment of the community.

“It doesn’t matter what we do,” she said. “Whatever we plan, there are going to be some that will hate it.”

Council will consider the Advisory Planning Commission’s recommendations, but is not bound to follow those recommendations.

The recommendations will be passed to municipal council for the next council meeting on Tuesday, Feb. 11. The plan will come before council at that meeting.