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Kelowna  

Seed planted on farm plan

Kelowna's Agricultural Plan is about to get a major facelift.

The plan, last updated nearly 20 years ago, will undergo a radical change during a three-phase, 16-month process.

Sustainability co-ordinator Tracy Guidi, told council Monday the plan, developed in 1998, has provided the city with policy direction while surviving two OCP updates, the introduction of a permanent growth boundary and a regional growth strategy.

"Our goals are to provide clear, descriptive policies for our agricultural areas, identify opportunities to strengthen farming and develop farming as an economic driver in our community, increase the amount of, and access to, locally grown food and to build resilience against rising food costs and climate change," said Guidi.

The plan will oversee close to 12,000 hectares of agriculturally zoned land, which accounts for 55 per cent of the city's land base. About 40 per cent of Kelowna's land base (8,200) hectares) is in the agricultural land reserve.

"I'm really looking forward to seeing this plan coming to fruition," said Coun. Mohini Singh.

"Our municipality is one of those that is under tremendous pressure from all sides. We want to see our agricultural industry thrive, but also make decisions that are good for the entire community."

Coun. Brad Sieben is also anxious to see an update to the plan, saying agriculture has become a hot issue with council. He was curious about the meaning of "local government market opportunities" discussed as part of Phase 3.

"We are looking to do some best practices research in which way we can support our agricultural community in different sales ways. It doesn't mean we can do a lot, but we are looking for best practices around the province," said Guidi.

"It may be looking for ways to have pop-up fruit stands in areas not zoned commercial or something like that. That may be one thing we could look at to help farmers get their fruits and vegetables out to the community."

Phase 1, developing an agricultural profile, is currently underway. Phases 2 and 3, including extensive public education and consultation and developing the plan itself, will be tackled concurrently in the spring of next year.

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