The District of Summerland Advisory Planning Commission voted unanimously in support of protecting Summerland’s agricultural land at Summerland Municipal Hall on Friday morning.
The Commission reviewed a draft of the municipality’s new Urban Growth Plan which would see the removal of some of Summerland’s best and flattest agricultural land from the Agricultural Land Reserve.
The plan generated considerable opposition in the community, and when the public was invited to address the Commission, all attendees were in support of the ALR, opposing the proposed changes.
At least 35 members of the public were in attendance as the Council Chambers were filled to standing room only.
Alexander Thistlewood, a thirty-year old Summerland resident and one of the original members of the Stop the Swap group founded by Erin Carlson, says “This is what community consultation looks like. We applaud the District’s efforts to involve Summerlanders in the development of the new plan but feel that the community’s wishes were not heeded.”
This view was sahred by the Advisory Commission. Ken Haddrell, a member of the Commision, argued that “the report looks like someone has tried to rationalize taking this land out [of the ALR].”
Meanwhile, Carla Ohmenzetter, the Commission Chair, suggested that the multi-criteria tool used by the District failed to capture the opinions of Summerlanders.
“We are encouraged by the finding of the Commission” says Carlson, who also spoke at the meeting. “We hope that Council will take it into account when they next meet as well as the Agricultural Land Commission, should it go so far.”
Should Council rule in favour of the new plan a public hearing is scheduled for Monday 3 March.