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Zoning application draws protest

Neighbours have voiced opposition to a Spallumcheen zoning and official community plan amendment application that, if approved by township council, would see an eight hectare parcel of agricultural land possibly turned into part of the Spallumcheen Golf Course.

Planner Marnie Skobalski explained that the subject properties are the Spallumcheen Golf Course, designated as commercial zone, and an eight-hectare portion of a lot owned by Al Jones east of the golf course.

“The plan of the golf course is to expand the course holdings to include the eight-hectare portion and add that to the golf course,” said Skobalski. “This portion that is proposed to be added is to be rezoned to commercial to accommodate the golf course. The remainder of the parcel remains agricultural.”

Skobalski said a couple of conditions have been specified for council to consider before final adoption of the amendments.

A restrictive covenant would be placed on the eight-hectare portion that would restrict its use to golf course fairways and open space. Other conditions according to Agricultural Land Commission rulings must be complied with before final reading.

“The ALC has approved the property as such,” said Jones. “Soil samples have been done and it shows the soil is not capable of being used for agriculture. There’s no water available, it’s all been used up for that area.

“There’s restricted access and a portion of the property is a steep hilside, about a 50 per cent slope, you can’t drive a truck or tractor up it. I thought the property would be better utilized for the golf course.”

Jones took exception to ads placed in local newspapers by the township that showed his entire 65-acre parcel was part of the zoning amendment application.

“The neighbours thought all of my land was going commercial,” said Jones.

Farmer Tahir Raza lives above the subject property, purchasing his land more than two years ago with the hope of developing it into an orchard.

He claims Jones’ application will devalue his land.

“I would like to see agricultural land stay agricultural,” said Raza. “It’s important to me. I strongly believe it should stay agricultural as a necessity for everybody.”

Chief administrative officer Greg Betts read into the record several letters from other neighbours opposing the application.

Former Spallucmheen council Wilmer Ringdal took issue with the wording of the zoning amendment application which reads the zoning bylaw “is hereby amended by changing the minimum lot size standard of the agricultural zone from 30.5 hectares to the lesser of 30.5 hectares or as approved by the ALC.”

“It raises concerns regarding increased residential density in agricultural zones which is the opposite of the policies adopted in the community plan,” said Ringdal. “Worse yet, it destroys any confidence ratepayers may have in their ability to affect public policy by engaging in community plan discussions, elections and public hearings like this one.”

Ringdal asked for council to consider rezoning the parcel in question.

However, council unanimously gave third reading to proposed amendments with Couns. Andrew Casson and Rachael Ganson absent from the meeting.

“I respect the viewpoint of the farmer (Raza) fiercely protecting agricultural land but I have a little experience on this,” said Coun. Todd York, who owns the Royal York Golf Course in Armstrong with his family. “Because it was directed to be greenspace fairway only with no buildings, it won’t affect property prices or have a negative effect on farming taking place around it.”

The Spallumcheen Golf Course has said they have no current plans to expand their current 27-hole facility.

 

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