Summerland’s municipal council has passed third reading of the controversial Urban Growth Strategy, sending the document on to the Agricultural Land Commission for approval.
The decision was a difficult one which left council with no good options.
The plan was the result of close to a year of public meetings and information-gathering exercises in 2013. Since December, the proposal — in particular the exchange agricultural land — has generated much opposition from the community.
The resulting polarization has put the members of municipal council in a no-win situation.
Approving the plan, as was done on Monday evening, also means angering the many Summerlanders who believe the plan is a bad choice for the community.
The number of people opposed is significant. More than 1,500 Summerlanders signed a petition opposing the land exchange.
Rejecting the plan would have left Summerland without a workable plan for future growth.
The existing growth plan, in the 2008 Official Community Plan, was ideal for the Summerland Hills Golf Resort, but it did not work for any smaller developments.
Furthermore, if council had rejected the plan, questions would be raised about why the municipality hired qualified planners and consultants to create such a plan.
Now that the vote has been made, the future of the plan is no longer a Summerland decision. Instead, it is up to the Agricultural Land Commission to determine if the controversial land plan is accepted or rejected.
The outcome of that decision will determine how Summerland will grow and develop in the years to come.
The decision for the land commission will be just as difficult as it was for the members of Summerland’s council.