We moved from Penticton last year, after finding a lovely house next to an orchard, on Agricultural Land Reserve land. This land is included in the exclusion proposal for the amended Official Community Plan.
I’ve taken great interest in the OCP amendment in part because it affects us and also because I’m working on an MSc in sustainable building and I sit on the Climate Action Advisory Committee for Penticton.
The amendment has created a sustainability versus sustainability debate, with one side arguing the benefits of less urban sprawl while the other advocates the benefits of food security and the carbon sequestration.
Both sides agree Summerland isn’t growing fast and there are hundreds of existing building lots. Why the urgency?
Summerland’s Climate Action Plan (published in 2011) has as Goal #1: Support the trading of ALR land within 800 meters or about a 10-minute walk of downtown with land in the periphery if additional development land is required.
I asked three members of the Climate Action Committee and nobody knew how this ended up as Goal #1.
In 2013, Summerland decided to spend $80,000 on the Future Summerland Project, asking residents where they would like to see future development.
The public confirmed that Goal #1 is a good idea. Or did they? Even before the hearings, there have been concerns about the legitimacy of the Future Summerland Project.
After considerable research it appears these concerns are valid.
The Summerland Urban Growth Strategy Final Report contains errors, contradictions and misrepresentation.
My analysis paper, Urban Growth Strategy using Multi-Criteria Analysis – Fact or Fiction?, is available free online at Scribd.com. Because of my findings, it is appropriate to question the sincerity of the ALR inclusion part of the swap.
A section of this hillside land was removed from the ALR in 2005, with Summerland arguing it was unfit to farm.
Without two businesses expressing an interest in farming this land, the Agricultural Land Commission would not entertain the OCP amendment.
If mayor and council had taken the time to look deeper into what has transpired, I believe they would not have supported this OCP amendment.
If I’m wrong, Summerland is far from sustainable.