Coldstream re-examines plans for agricultural land

Proposal for 10-hectare minimum for future subdivisions of ALR land goes back to drawing board

After being met with considerable opposition, Coldstream has scrapped its original efforts to retain larger parcels of agricultural land.

The district had initially proposed to create a 10-hectare minimum for future subdivisions of Agricultural Land Reserve property.

Among others, members of the Coldstream Acreage Owners’ Association spoke out against the proposed limitations. With the current land prices and economic situation, the association points out that many farmers cannot afford to purchase, or manage, large parcels of land. Therefore smaller parcels are sought and also provide opportunities for aging farmers to cut down their work load while giving interested future farms the chance to grow their own.

In light of the concerns over proposed limitations, Coldstream is going back to the drawing board on its agricultural plan.

Instead of rezoning lands, Coldstream is renewing dialogue about the appropriate size for agricultural lands – as part of an upcoming review of Coldstream’s almost 20-year-old Official Community Plan.

The recommendation is for each non-farm use, subdivision or exclusion application to be considered on its own merits and based on a number of factors such as soil capability, land use, topography, utilities and roads, etc.

But not everyone is eager to rework the plan.

“This is like taking two steps forward and one step back,” said Coun. Maria Besso. “But maybe it’s a necessary step back.”

Besso sticks by Coldstream’s efforts to retain large parcels of agricultural land, as she points out that there aren’t many.

“93.2 per cent of the parcels within Coldstream are already less than 10 hectares. That’s a point that wasn’t made clearly enough.”

Coldstream’s new director of development services, Mike Reiley, adds: “It is a bit of a dance but I understand it was a bit of a contentious issue here in the community.”

Coldstream will begin to initiate dialogue with residents and property owners in December and throughout 2013 as part of its OCP review.