Landscaper OK for ALR

Kelowna city council went against staff wishes and gave cursory approval for a landscaping business to remain operating on agricultural land.

Planner Laura Bentley said staff recommended against the non-farm use application, saying it was not consistent with zoning or the Official Community Plan.

"We've seen other landscaping companies moved off of agricultural land, and operating now on industrial land through some compliance efforts on the part of the city and the ALC," said Bentley.

While addressing council, property owner Ryan Makewich said the landscape portion of the business amounts to less than 3.5 per cent of the overall property, adding the viable agricultural nursery brings in approximately $100,000 per acre.

"I fully appreciate staff's recommendation to not support landscaping business on ALR land, and I have supported those positions all along," said Coun. Luke Stack in going against staff.

"In most of the cases that have come before me, I have seen virtually no agricultural business taking place, or a very small percentage, and a high percentage of landscaping use. They are landscaping businesses doing the least amount they could on farm land to make it look legitimate."

Stack said this application is an opposite scenario.

"When I am looking to protect farmland, in my mind, we want to protect farms, we want to see produce, we want to see the soil put to good use.

"This is a workable model."

Coun. Gail Given said the decision by council will likely rub other landscaping businesses the wrong way.

"There are people out there in landscape businesses that have recently moved that I might be hearing from, saying why were you not consistent on this one?" said Given

"Well, I can say quite readily just take a look at how much farming is taking place on this property and the production capabilities. I have no problem answering people who might challenge me on this one."

Council's unanimous decision does not guarantee the landscape business can stay. That decision will be made by the Agricultural Land Commission.

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