Since the proposed Urban Growth Plan was announced last week, Summerlanders have voiced strong opinions about the plan and its effects.
The plan calls for the removal of 87 hectares of land from the Agricultural Land Reserve near the core of the community, although land in the Prairie Valley area would be added to the land reserve.
Proponents are quick to mention the benefits of a compact urban core, while opponents say the loss of farm land is unacceptable.
Several questions must be answered before accepting or rejecting this plan.
For those opposed to the growth plan, where should future urban growth be located? Summerland’s growth rate is slow at present, but there have been years when the community has had a rapid influx of newcomers.
If the present mix of agricultural land and residential development continues, how can rural/urban conflicts be presented? In some cases, lands now designated as agricultural near the core of the community are adjacent to multi-family residential developments. Not all residential neighbours understand or appreciate that farming can sometimes be a noisy or messy business.
For those who support the plan, what steps can be taken to ensure urban developments in the future will not further encroach onto agricultural land? While the land use plan will last for years to come, it is possible that members of a future council would give their approval to one or more smaller exclusions of agricultural land for urban development.
Once a portion of agricultural land has been developed, it is almost impossible to return the land to farming.
Because of the implications of this decision, it is important to act slowly and to carefully consider the implications of accepting or rejecting this plan.