Paul Williamson, with the BX Ranch, wants to keep the remaining portion of BX Ranch land for park or other potential uses. (photo submitted)

BX ranch land ‘a community asset’

Task force implores Greater Vernon residents to help keep East Vernon Road land in public hands

Calling it a “last chance to retain the land as a large community asset,” the BX Ranch Land task force wants residents to let politicians know they want to keep the remaining 67.5 hectares at 4122 East Vernon Road public.

The task force is concerned the Regional District of North Okanagan could sell off those remaining 67.5 hectares.

“We strongly encourage the residents of Greater Vernon to consider the benefits of keeping this land in public hands and to contact your local politicians,” said task force chairperson Paul Williamson.

RELATED: BX Ranch proposed as agricultural park

The 67.5-hectare parcel of the BX Ranch was purchased by the RDNO in early 2016 for $2.315 million, and the land was subdivided to create a nearly 15-hectare linear park. A resolution was passed to the sell the remaining 55.5 hectares.

Williamson said a requirement of the Agricultural Land Commission (ALC) was to re-zone the remainder land from country residential to large holdings to allow the creation of a linear park.

The park, he said, was created and joins two existing parks – BX Ranch Park and Mutrie Dog Park, with a link to East Vernon Road.

“This park remains closed pending its development,” said Williamson.

RELATED: BX Ranch generates debate

The task force was formed in the spring of 2017 to encourage Greater Vernon politicians to keep the remaining lands in public hands and allow the community time to look at alternative uses.

The task forces believe the land could be used for:

* Possible new site of the Vernon Search and Rescue (VSAR);

* Wet Land reclamation would serve to provide flood and drought resiliency by providing a landscape that absorbs rainfall and snowmelt;

* Regional agricultural plan priorities can be fulfilled;

* Ensuring farmland availability for emerging and multigenerational farmers;

* Raising awareness through education and celebration of agriculture;

* Formation of an agricultural park with a Food Land Co-Op/Trust;

* Community Gardens;

* Horticulture;

* Creation and preservation of habitat for threatened or endangered species;

* Open space activities for North Okanagan citizens;

* Expanded trails for walking, horseback riding etc;

* Maintain as a hay farm for the time being.

Williamson said the task force has community support in the form of a 1,500+ signature petition.

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