I am saddened but not surprised at the results of the Summerland Urban Growth Strategy report, and Summerland council’s delight with it.
This in essence is suggesting throwing away all the previous Official Community Plans and focussing on housing densification as a justification for removing land from the Agricultural Land Reserve.
The report, available on the municipal website, is a supposed scientific response to a survey of a small group of residents. However, responses (on page 19 of the report) indicate the top three criteria for changing the growth plan are:
1. Respecting ecosystem conservation
2. Walkability (which is tough to define)
3. Preserving ALR lands.
By a process the consultants call “multi-criteria analysis,” they managed to come to the conclusion that the best way of achieving the above is to enable infilling in the downtown core (which most would agree with) and to remove ALR lands in the area northwest of downtown (which many would disagree with.)
In a statement combining smoke and mirrors, Mayor Janice Perrino has indicated that the council would balance this loss by adding land currently not designated agricultural into the ALR. She has not said where this is to be, but my information is that it is an area previously designated ALR land (but never farmed) but which this essentially same council had asked to be removed because it was in the way of the now defunct Summerland Hills Golf Resort development.
Since its inception, Summerland has been based on agriculture, and to me that is a major factor in its charm.
In the 30 plus years I have lived here, I have seen various attacks on ALR land, but none so blatant as this. I trust residents will show their displeasure with this plan.