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Penticton  

What's next for urban growth

Summerland council and staff and those involved in the Stop the Swap movement, are readying for what's next, after Monday's vote on a controversial land swap issue.

According to Mayor Janice Perrino, an application will now be sent to the Agricultural Land Commission on the matter.

"It now goes to ALC for approval and we will be talking to them and hopefully moving forward," she said. "Whatever happens next we will have to face that."

Perrino, along with councillors Marty Van Alphen, Orv Robson and Robert S. Hacking voted in favour of the urban growth plan, which entails the the removal of just over 80 hectares of farmland, to be replaced by just over 90 hectares of hilly land.

Each explained their reasons for voting in favour, in front of  the big crowd, primarily comprised of people opposed to the swap, in council chambers Monday night.

Perrino faced the most flak, during her comments, with one person even shouting out "Janice, cut the crap please."

Councilor Peter Waterman was the only one to vote against the plan, with his statement of "And now for something completely different," drawing a round of applause.

Two councillors Bruce Hallquist and Lloyd Christopherson, have small acreages in the land being excluded, and did not vote.

Perrino said it was difficult for all the council to vote the way they did, but they felt it was something they have to do.

Council and staff have been planning for this for over a year, she said.

Much of their thought process has been based on the fact there has been no growth at all in the last 15 years, with less than 700 people moving to Summerland since 1996, she said.

Stores have also closed in the downtown.

"The reality of the situation is we have to allow some growth to sustain for future growth in the core of the town," she said. "This is more environmentally friendly and obviously the way the province wants us to go. In our case it is also business friendly."

She admitted the vote was a dangerous move for the council in an election year, but they did what they felt was the best thing for Summerland.

"Elections don't matter, you do what is right for the community," she said.

Erin Carlson, the organizer of Stop the Swap, expressed her disappointment along with others, on the steps of the municipal hall, Monday night.

But the group is not giving up on its effort to keep the land in the ALR.

"We have until at least July and hopefully September before the land commission will look at the application, and in that time we will continue to gather facts and tell the truth," she said.

"Most importantly for me is I am going to continue farming, because what came out of this is that agriculture is more important than ever."

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