I attended the Future Summerland meetings, participated in the surveys and discussions and have now read the final report.
It took a while for the consultants to get a feel for the physical layout of the town and a sense of what the residents want. In the end, they got many things right, such as increasing density close to town, avoiding urban sprawl and making use of the city services that the town has already installed.
Various Agricultural Land Reserve parcels were included in the analysis, while others were not examined.
As an ALR landowner at the end of Mountford Road, with 18 urban neighbours and full services, being excluded from this long-term plan for urban growth is frustrating.
When I looked at this land 11 years ago, I compared it to the principles of Smart Growth, then purchased it.
There are many other serviced infill small acreages scattered throughout Summerland which can provide years of development. I believe these should be rezoned before divvying up large blocks of good, flat ALR farmland. This is the alternative to wasting our best farmland.
Many of these fall within the walkability criteria and have services at their door.
Farmland should stay in farming areas and development should be kept close to town and in areas where the people of Summerland have already footed the bill to install city sewer and all the other services.
The Okanagan has plenty of hillsides with marginal capability, but not much flat valley bottom land that is prime for arable crops and farming in general.
Summerland has many acreages in town that are either hillside, have poor soil or have excessive urban/rural conflict which makes it difficult to successfully farm those.
The large groups of farms towards the Garnett Valley area that are being considered now for housing has little rural/urban conflict and in my mind should remain that way. So it makes sense to me (and to Smart Growth principles) that these numerous infill lots be developed first.
Why use our best and rarest farmland for housing when we have plenty of infill lots that already have sanitary sewer and the roads built.
A way to develop an affordable, vibrant, walkable community is to include every parcel of ALR and municipally owned land within the serviced area and evaluate them via a checklist that may include:
o Distance to town
o Is it sewered
o Distance to a collector road
o Amount of rural/urban conflict
o Quality and quantity of soil
o Other impediments to the land such as shading and slope, etc.
Then there is an objective criteria that can be measured and is fair and transparent to everyone.