Proposed Summerland growth plan now on hold

The municipality will hold a town hall meeting early in April on Summerland's proposed growth plan.

It will be a time for questions and answers about Summerland’s proposed growth plan as the municipality will hold a town hall meeting early in April.

The meeting will take place on Monday, April 7 from 6 to 9 p.m. in the high school gym.

The town hall meeting will begin with a 15-minute presentation about the plan by municipal planner Ian McIntosh.

Following the presentation, members of council will each have five minutes to share their thoughts about the Urban Growth Plan.

Coun. Bruce Hallquist and Coun. Lloyd Christopherson, who both own land in the affected area, will not be present. The two councillors have been absent from all other discussions and meetings about the plan.

Municipal administrator Tom Day said the statements from council members will help to address a concern which has been raised by the public.

“People are saying they haven’t really heard from council,” Day said.

The proposed growth plan calls for the removal of 80.34 hectares of land from the Agricultural Land Reserve near the core of the community, while 91.7 hectares in the Prairie Valley area would be added to the land reserve.

The removal of this agricultural land has generated strong opposition.

At a public hearing on March 3, a petition with more than 2,600 signatures, including 1,200 from Summerlanders, was presented. The petition was in opposition to the land exchange.

Mayor Janice Perrino said questions have been raised about why a new growth plan was needed.

The existing growth plan, which put Summerland’s future growth in the Summerland Hills area and Rattlesnake Mountain, was established in 2008, in a 4-3 council decision.

Once the Summerland Hills Golf Resort proposal was off the table, there was no other development proposal of similar scope.

Perrino said the need for a new growth plan was determined by council 14 months ago.

“All seven agreed the Urban Growth Area was not working and it’s not a good plan for the future,” she said. “This was nothing more than a no-growth plan.”

Of the council members able to participate in discussions on the new plan, Coun. Peter Waterman has consistently voted against the new plan, because of concerns about the removal of agricultural land.

After the council members have spoken at the town hall meeting, a question and answer session will follow.

“There will be dialogue back and forth,” Day said.

After the meeting, a public hearing on the proposed growth plan will be held on Tuesday, April 22 at 7 p.m., at a location to be determined.

The earlier hearing, held on March 3 in the Arena Banquet Room, filled the space. An estimated 50 people were locked out since the building was at capacity.

As a result, council later opted to hold a new public hearing, with a town hall meeting in advance.

The town hall meeting will take place on April 7 from 6 to 9 p.m. and the location has changed from the arena to the Summerland Secondary School gym.