Opinions were split on a proposal to remove a 10-unit block of properties near the Bentley Road industrial area from the Agricultural Land Reserve.
The exclusion, if passed, would not alter the Official Community Plan designation or zoning for any of the properties. However, if any of the properties were to be rezoned in the future, the change would not have to go through the Agricultural Land Commission at that time.
Leneigh Bosdet, a lawyer representing two property owners adjacent to the 10-unit block, said her clients would be in support of the exclusion if their properties were added to it.
“They should not be penalized because they are choosing to farm at this time,” she told council on Monday evening.
She added that excluding the land from the land reserve would not prohibit the families from continuing to farm.
Randy Selwood, who lives near the land block, said the land exclusion would affect the value of his home.
“If this is to become light industrial, our property value would decrease substantially,” he said.
He added that there are already three industrial areas in Summerland and questioned the need for more industrial land.
“Nobody wants to live next to an industrial park,” he said.
Chris Roberts, another nearby property owner, also questioned the land exclusion.
“If it’s going to devalue us and put us into a condo, we’re not for it,” he said.
George Gianotti, representing one of the applicants, said the land is needed since his client is not able to find other suitable properties available for light industrial use.
He said the properties, across the street from an existing industrial, make sense for exclusion because of their location.
“If we’re going to create industrial land, we should put it next to industrial land,” he said.
Municipal planner Ian McIntosh said Summerland is in desperate need for additional agricultural land.
He said a report from April, 2010 showed just three industrial properties in Summerland were for sale at that time.
The report said throughout the Okanagan Valley from Vernon to Osoyoos, the vacant industrial land was less than 49 hectares, but a land base of 315 hectares was needed instead.
McIntosh said this block of land had received earlier support from the Agricultural Land Commission in 1995.
“This is clearly the only available property the land commission has supported in the past,” he said.
Coun. Sam Elia said the effect of the rezoning on the neighbourhood must be considered, but so too must the needs of the community as a whole.
“There appears to be a need for more industrial property in town,” he said.
Council deferred a decision on the land reserve appeal, with Mayor Janice Perrino opposed to the deferral.
Coun. Gordon Clark and Coun. Jim Kyluik were not present.