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Penticton  

No vote yet on land swap

Summerland council did not vote, as expected, on a land swap issue at Monday's meeting.

Instead Mayor Janice Perrino told the large crowd gathered that there will be one or possibly two town hall meetings and a second public hearing on the matter.

Perrino said the main reason for the decision was as many as 50 people could not get into the public hearing held March 3.

"People who were locked out need to be heard, before we can do this," she said. "We're going to give you as much information as we can."

It was the second and third reading of a new Official Community Plan amendment bylaw, urban growth strategy plan, that would exclude more than 80 hectares from the Agricultural Land Reserve and include just over 90 hectares, that was held off on.

Those in attendance were invited to tentatively put the first Monday in April on their calendars for the town hall meeting, and staff will try to book Centre Stage Theatre.

It is expected that all information will be brought forward to the next public meeting.

There has been strong opposition to the swap, with hundreds of people attending the first hearing at the Arena Banquet Room.

The opponents say under the new plan, the over 80 hectares of flat arable farm land will be swapped out of the ALR, while the just over 90 hectares of rocky hilly land, removed from the ALR in 2005, would be swapped to compensate.

There has been strong support for a movement known as Stop the Swap. A rally was held on the issue, a petition has been signed and any meetings on the matter have been well attended.

After Perrino made her announcement, at the start of Monday's meeting, most of the 60 people attending left.

Erin Carlson, the leader of Stop the Swap, said there are a lot of people in the community looking forward to having their say.

"This has been rushed to get done fast," she said.

Summerland resident David Finn, said he was disappointed the vote didn't happen.

"I think they should have the courage to make a decision," he said. "They are worried about it. The longer they wait, the less people will be there."

Perrino, however, stressed during the meeting that there wasn't a single person who enjoyed what they were putting the community through and that she wants residents to get real answers.

The District of Summerland has asked for public feedback on the matter, throughout the urban growth strategy planning process.

Prior to the last public hearing, there was an open house where residents  were invited to talk to staff, view maps and learn more about what comes next.

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