Springfield Road development?
Sep 25, 2013 / 5:00 pm
An ambitious development proposed for the south side of Springfield Road between Cooper and Spall roads has received an enthusiastic endorsement from City Council.
In a 7-1 vote (Councillor Mohini Singh voted against and Councillor Robert Hobson excused himself from the debate), council agreed to forward the application to the Agricultural Land Commission.
McIntosh Properties, owners of the 9.85 hectares of land currently in the Agricultural Land Reserve, are proposing a multi-use development which would include 500 residential units and approximately 9,290 square metres of commercial and office space.
In order for the development to move forward the ALC must agree to exclude the land from the ALR.
The developer has offered:
To exchange 21.4 hectares of arable land located at Siwash Creek Road in the North Okanagan Regional District
Give $1.75M towards agricultural improvements to existing ALR farm lands throughout the Okanagan
Move approximately 15,000 cubic yards of topsoil from the Springfield Road property for future remediation of an agricultural property in Southeast Kelowna
City staff endorsed the application to ask the ALC to exclude the lands from the ALR.
Environment and Land Use manager, Todd Cashin, says that decision is consistent with the city's Agriculture Plan adopted in 1998.
Cashin says policy point 26 in the AG Plan states, "The City of Kelowna will continue to support the future exclusion or non-farm use of two properties south of Springfield Road between Cooper and Spall."
Councillor Gerry Zimmermann, who sat on the ALC before becoming a councillor, says he believes the application for exclusion is textbook in enhancing agriculture.
"Firstly, the subject property is three sides surrounded by urban development. It would be very hard to make agriculture viable," says Zimmermann.
"I like the idea of taking topsoil and moving it to other locations. Putting up wind machines for frost pockets - also a good idea. I think this is something that could be used as an example in the future for a lot of other developments."
The proposal also includes a 24.6 metre wide buffer at the south end of the property between the proposed development and the remaining agricultural lands further south.
The buffer would include a 1.5 metre high berm and a full sized city street with double sidewalks.
"We often see people come forward asking to have land removed from the ALR but rarely do we have such a comprehensive mitigation package," added Councillor Gail Given.
"I have also driven down that road wondering why that land sat empty when we have an arterial road as major as Springfield Road. Only single loading it doesn't make sense."
Singh, who voted against the proposal agreed that the presentation was outstanding but, at the end of the day, she worried about the plight of the farmer.
"I read a couple of letters and one said farming is very difficult and another development there will make it nearly impossible to do anything," stated Singh.
"I work with farmers and I will probably be the only one (voting against), but I can't support this. I fear for the long term affect this will have on agriculture in this region."
The city will forward its findings including minutes from Monday's debate and staff reports and comments to the Agriculture Land Commission who ultimately will make the final decision.
If the ALC agrees to exclude the land, the applicant would then have to appear again before council to apply for OCP and zoning amendments.
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