Fintry farm process defended

The North Westside Ratepayers Association has challenged the Regional District of Central Okanagan

A politician is defending the process that could ultimately lead to a farm on the Fintry delta.

The North Westside Ratepayers Association has challenged the Regional District of Central Okanagan over its decision to seek a land swap with the provincial government for agricultural activities.

“The proper process was followed,” said Jim Edgson, director for the area.

The NWRA has disputed a decision being made by the RDCO board July 18 even though the land swap was not on the agenda.

“We feel this issue needs to be given far more forethought and analysis before it is discussed with anyone,” said Diane Baldwin, NWRA president.

While the item wasn’t specifically on the agenda, Edgson says it was brought up under a section known as directors’ items.

“Items can come forward and action can be taken right there,” he said.

RDCO will apply to B.C. Parks for a land swap so farming can take place and generate funds for the Friends of Fintry Park Society, which is responsible for Fintry Provincial Park’s heritage manor and barn.

RDCO has offered to swap 129.5 hectares of land above Westside Road, which is part of the park but is owned by the regional district, for a lowland field. The field is not used by B.C. Parks.

“The low field area is quite small. Would this be a 129.5-hectare trade for say 10 or 20 hectares?” said Baldwin.

“This 129.5 hectare property, presumed to  be the Fintry protected area, needs to remain under the stewardship of RDCO for its intended purpose.”

Baldwin also questions the financial viability of operating a farm, the possible impact on the water supply and the inconvenience for residents if the farm includes livestock.

“People come to Fintry to boat, swim, hike and yes to take in the history,” she said.

Edgson says RDCO is simply investigating whether a land swap is possible, and if it does occur, there will be a lengthy process before farming was initiated.

“We’d have to meet ministry policies and neighbours’ concerns. It’s way to premature because we have to see first if we can do the  land swap,” he said.

It’s been suggested that RDCO take over the bottom land because B.C. Parks’ policies currently don’t allow items to be taken out of a park. Under the rules, that could pertain to vegetables and fruit grown there.