A proposal to remove a block of 10 agricultural properties from the Agricultural Land Reserve raises some difficult issues.
The properties, on Rennie Street and a portion of Bentley Road, have not been actively farmed for several years.
Because they are close to the Bentley Road industrial area, it would make sense to allow our industrial land base to expand there, away from the core of the community.
Still, the idea of taking land out of the land reserve should make us uncomfortable.
British Columbia has a limited amount of land suitable for agriculture. In Summerland, where we have a climate ideal for growing fruit and grapes, we need to ensure we have land in place for agriculture.
Once a piece of farm land is developed, it is almost impossible to farm it again.
And, as fuel prices continue to rise, we will need to look at producing more of our food close to home rather than importing what we eat. To do this, we need a good agricultural land base.
However, while it is easy to talk about the benefits of a strong agricultural sector, one must look at the reality.
We have unfarmed parcels of land within the Agricultural Land Reserve.
Many of our farmers are nearing retirement, with few young people willing to take up farming or fruit growing.
We need to ask if the cry to preserve farm land is about producing food or about preserving a tradition and a way of life.
Summerland has needed an industrial land base for many years. Some companies have been unable to set up in Summerland simply because the land was not available.
If even a few of these companies had been able to build here, they would have provided some needed jobs.
We do not wish to lose farm land, but there are times when the decisions are much more complex than can be summed up in an ideology.
— Summerland Review