Land use plan would be short sighted

As one of your constituents, I would like to go on record as opposing the proposed Agricultural Land Reserve land swap.

Dear Editor:

Thank you mayor and council for the time and effort you put into looking after the best interest of your constituents, the residents of Summerland.

I can appreciate that it is difficult to please everyone – there will always be a small special interest group opposing or promoting one view or another.

As one of your constituents, I would like to go on record as opposing the proposed Agricultural Land Reserve land swap.

In the interest of brevity, I will touch on a couple of points rather than reiterating all the points that have been eloquently put forward by others.

Firstly, I think you have insulted the intelligence of every resident by saying that the lands proposed for a land swap are equal in agricultural value.

One does not have to be a rocket scientist (or an agricultural scientist) to see the difference in the land.

The land which you propose to remove from the ALR is land proven to be good for and in use for growing agricultural products.

The land you propose to put into the ALR appears to be goat grazing land.

For anything else it would need extensive and costly upgrading, which is not likely to happen.

I don’t believe that this is in the spirit of what the ALR was meant to do. I believe it was put in place to protect existing agricultural land from housing developments.

In my opinion, to shuffle the ALR designation around to suit developers is not appropriate or acceptable.

To make this swap would be very short sighted.

People and businesses do not move to, or stay in, Summerland because there are new subdivisions within “walking distance” of town.

I believe we move or stay here because of the lifestyle which includes being able to live in a town that does not look like West Kelowna.

We want the semi-rural feeling of living among the orchards and vineyards. Summerland is not and never will be the quaint European village concentrated into a few hectares that I think some see in their minds.

If one looks only at a map and not the actual land the argument of having new development close to existing services does have some validity.

However, it does not outweigh the long-term effects of growing houses on viable agricultural land. Do we want to make the same mistake California has made?

Once it’s done, it cannot be undone.

Perhaps if proximity to services is relevant, then those who profit from the development should pay the costs.

Council should be representing the majority of Summerlanders – not catering to developers.

The decision whether to go ahead with this swap should be a no brainer.

Firstly because of the facts, and secondly because I believe the majority has spoken.

Those opposed are not a noisy minority or special interest group as I hope you have realized by now.

However it does appear that those in favour of a land swap are a special interest group and very much in the minority.

I thank you for your time and trust that you will make the decision which reflects the wishes of your constituents, ensures the preservation of agricultural land, and preserves the flavour of Summerland for our children’s children.

Terry Ducommun