A report recommending the removal of some agricultural land to allow for densification in the downtown core did not receive unanimous support at the council table on Monday evening.
The 95-page report for Summerland’s proposed Urban Growth Plan was the result of a year’s study by consultants.
During that time, the consultants received input from around 1,300 people in the community, exceeding the goal of 1,000 people.
The plan from the consultants is a change from the existing growth area in Summerland’s Official Community Plan.
At present, the bulk of Summerland’s future growth is set for the Prairie Valley area, which had been proposed for the Summerland Hills development.
Summerland Hills, a large golf resort and residential development, is no longer being considered.
The new plan calls for the bulk of new development to go to the existing downtown area and lands nearby.
Following this strategy would also involve the removal of 87 hectares from the Agricultural Land Reserve.
Meanwhile, the Summerland Hills area, the Deer Ridge Area and Hunter Hills are excluded from the growth area.
Lands in the James Lake Industrial Area are also excluded, as is the Crescent Beach area.
“The proposed Urban Growth Area is about half the size of the current area,” municipal planner Ian McIntosh said as he presented the plan.
Coun. Peter Waterman, a retired agrologist, opposed the plan, since it would be one of the largest removals of land from the Agricultural Land Reserve in the Okanagan Valley.
He added that the plan does not provide adequate support to Summerland’s economy.
“There was an inadequate examination of demographic trends,” he said.
“I really don’t feel there is going to be the kind of impact we would hope for.”
Waterman said the proposed removal of land from the Agricultural Land Reserve for development would be an abuse of farm land.
Coun. Martin Van Alphen, who farms in the Garnett Valley area, supported the plan since it would help to limit sprawling development in Summerland.
Although Summerland has one-third the population of Penticton, he said the community has three times the amount of road infrastructure.
“This urban sprawl has got to stop,” he said.
Coun. Orv Robson said the plan is needed to bolster Summerland’s growth rate.
In recent years, the community’s rate of growth has been less than one per cent a year.
“We cannot sustain our services at a one per cent growth rate,” he said.
He added that the plan is for a 30- to 50-year time frame.
Coun. Robert Hacking also supported the plan since he believes it will bring growth to the community.
“For me, a one per cent growth rate is simply not what it takes to keep Summerland viable,” he said.
Mayor Janice Perrino said the existing system of growth in Summerland has proved to be expensive.
“We know what it costs to build roads,” she said. “It has been heartbreaking to see how we have been leapfrogging.”
Coun. Bruce Hallquist and Coun. Lloyd Christopherson were both absent from the discussion on the growth strategy, since they both own property in the area affected.
The resolution to accept the report was carried with Waterman opposed.
Before the growth strategy is adopted, it will be presented to council again, beginning with a draft version in January.
A public hearing on the Agricultural Land Reserve exclusion is expected for February and a public hearing on the change to the community plan will be held in March.
“There are at least two more opportunities for official public input,” McIntosh said.
Those who live in the affected area will receive written notification of the proposal and the hearings.
The changes will require a majority of full council, or at least four of the seven members of council, in order to take effect.