A rezoning application by one of the township’s largest employers drew considerable conversation at Monday’s Spallumcheen council meeting.
Rogers Foods has applied to rezone a portion of its property from agricultural to agricultural industrial use, and wants to change land use designation from agricultural and industrial.
A memo from the Agricultural Land Commission (ALC) states that Rogers Foods plan to realign parcel properties between three adjoining parcels to create a 47.4 hectare lot that would be purchased by River Breeze Dairy Farm, a 5.7 hectare lot that Rogers Foods plans to use for industrial processing, and an 8.1 hectare lot that would be for farm use.
The ALC has supported Rogers Foods’ application.
“That’s prime agricultural land,” stated Coun. Dave Brew, one of two opponents to the application.
The other is Mayor Will Hansma, who said the move by Rogers Foods was “opportunistic,” and questioned the timing of the application.
“They put something like this on the table when there are new people (new councillors) around the table or people that don’t have all of the information in regards to the process involved,” said Hansma.
“I’m a little concerned that the only thing Rogers Foods is doing here is enhancing the value of their property. I don’t see anything in any of the information in front of us that actually increases our reasons to have that property for any other use than what it’s currently being used for. I don’t see any valid reason for it to be an industrial zone.”
Hansma argued that giving first, second and third reading of the proposed bylaw “triples or quadruples the value of that piece of property, and does nothing for the township.”
Speaking in favour of the application, Coun. Todd York said one of the parcels in question is nothing more than a hard gravel parking lot.
“If Rogers Foods has the opportunity and inclination, we should be applauding them for that,” said York.
“As a major employer in this community, I’d like to see half-a-dozen more Rogers Foods around here.
It’s not like we’re taking land that someone is growing potatoes on right now, and turning it over to the agricultural ministry. We need to support Rogers Foods,” said York.
After nearly 40 minutes of deliberation, council passed first two readings of the zoning and land use change bylaws, meaning the matter will go to public hearing sometime in December.
The final council vote was 5-2 in favour, with Brew and Hansma opposed.