A plan to install a Growcer modular farming system on a property in Osoyoos has received preliminary approval from council.
The matter was brought before council because the property owner at 8214 97th Street is seeking a variance in the setback to allow for construction of a new greenhouse that will only have a setback of three metres from the back of the lot.
A Growcer farming system is a type of vertical farm greenhouse that enables the production of food year-round using a hydroponic method of watering which uses less water.
The report to council on this variance notes that the proposed vertical farm system aligns with the permitted uses listed in the zoning bylaw.
The property is in the C-3 Highway Commercial Zone and requires a setback of at least six metres according to the bylaw.
Council unanimously passed and accepted the application which will proceed to the Sept. 12 council meeting.
Councillor Jim King clarified during the meeting that the rear of this property backs onto more agricultural land.
King also commented on the procedure for these types of applications before council. King was under the assumption that the town was supposed to have a variance committee to deal with these types of applications.
Leah Curtis, Planning Technician for the Town of Osoyoos explained that “we are required to have a Board of Variance. The difference between something going to a Board of Variance and to a Development Variance Permit is very simple.
“A Board of Variance deals only with cases of hardship. . . and when it’s a request like this when it’s a want and not a need it goes to a Development Variance Permit.”
Curtis then further clarified that currently the town would have to use the Regional District of the Okanagan-Similkameen’s Board of Variance if required because of a previous bylaw that is in place.
“We should probably update that and will bring it up to a council meeting in September,” Curtis said.
Written submissions from neighbours submitted to the town will be taken into consideration at the Sept. 12 council meeting.