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Penticton  

Strong opposition to land swap

Several hundred people plan to show their opposition on Monday in Summerland to the removal of prime agricultural land from the Agricultural Land Reserve.

The Stop the Swap group, founded by Erin Carlson, will present a petition with over 2600 signatures at the Public Hearing taking place at the Arena Banquet Hall in Summerland, Monday, March 3.

“We are a grassroots campaign of young people doing this for the first time and we have collected over 2,600 signatures, including over 1,200 from Summerlanders” said Carlson.

The subject of the hearing is a new Official Community Plan.

Under the proposal, about 80 hectares of flat, arable farming land would be removed from the ALR for future residential development. About 90 hectares of marginal, hilly land would be swapped into the ALR to compensate, some of which was itself removed from the ALR for a failed residential development in 2005.

Summerland Council has already voted once in favour of the new plan. 

The District of Summerland consulted with a total of 1,300 people in its community consultation, which it has claimed was the most successful in Summerland history. 

The Stop the Swap group argues that of the 1,300 people consulted a very small number of them actually supported the plan that resulted. 

“If you look at the numbers, they drop very quickly” said Alexander Thistlewood, one of the founding members of the group.

“The people were never asked explicitly if they support taking this land out of the ALR” continued Thistlewood. “They are speaking up now. Summerlanders have stood up for agricultural land when it has been threatened many times before and they are doing it once again.”

“We have the support of experts in soil science, modern production practices, global food markets, climate change, and local history” said Carlson. “We hope that Council will listen to everyone who wants to speak out.”

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