Vernon council split over developing agricultural land

The 3.8 hectares is located at 15th Street and Pottery Road and the owner is proposing to construct residential lots.

There is a distinct split among Vernon politicians over a proposed development.

A majority of council decided Monday to go against a staff recommendation and send an application for Agricultural Land Reserve exclusion to the Agricultural Land Commission for consideration.

“I’m discouraged we are not considering the preservation of farm land,” said Coun. Juliette Cunningham, who along with Coun. Bob Spiers, voted against supporting the application.

The 3.8 hectares is located at 15th Street and Pottery Road and the owner is proposing to construct residential lots.

“I’m not in favour of gobbling up ARL land but I don’t see a lot of farming value on that corner,” said Coun. Brian Quiring, adding the property is close to shopping, schools and services.

“It’s a natural progression of the community. It’s smart growth.”

Staff opposed supporting the ALR exclusion application because it goes against the official community plan and the amount of land already existing in Vernon for housing.

Coun. Scott Anderson was not moved by administration’s argument.

“The OCP is a guide more than something chiselled in granite,” he said.

“The only thing I’ve seen growing on that land is (election) campaign signs.”

Cunningham made one last pitch to keep the application from going to the ALC.

“When you look at climate change, there’s the possibility of growing and doing other things on that property,” she said.

A motion not to support the application died in 4-3 vote and that ultimately led to a successful motion to back the application.

Anderson does not believe developing the site will hinder the community’s ability to feed itself in the future.

“Civilization does not hinge on this parcel of land,” he said.

Cunningham, though, suggests that a precedent has been set.

“It opens the door for everyone to come and do the same thing,” she said of getting a city endorsement to remove land from the ALR.