Communities in British Columbia are required to have a plan for future growth in place, but determining how and where that growth will occur can become a difficult and controversial issue.
In Summerland, the Official Community Plan designated all future growth for the Summerland Hills area, at the western edge of the municipality. In 2008, the plan seemed to have merit as a development proposal was in the works. When the plan failed, Summerland was left with an unworkable growth strategy.
For the last several years, the focus has been on increasing the density in the core of the community rather than continuing with the sprawl which has defined Summerland in the past.
This strategy also means some agricultural land near the town core would have to be removed and used for urban development, a plan opposed by some in the agricultural sector.
While the goal of preserving farmland is admirable, it does not make sense to continue with the present method where farms and urban lands are often adjacent to each other.
Too often, an urban resident does not understand that farming can be noisy and that it can involve the use of some harsh pesticides and sprays. Rural-urban conflicts are not good for any of those involved.
Sprawl developments are also difficult for a municipality to maintain as full services are required throughout the community. It is much cheaper to have the bulk of the population in one part of the community.
And it is much less intrusive on the commercial farmers if agricultural land use and urban land use are kept separate.
There are no perfect solutions to land use in Summerland, but with a spirit of compromise and negotiations — on all sides — it is possible to come up with a plan which can benefit all.