Rescinding land swap first order of business in Summerland

Mayor-elect Peter Waterman said the resolution will be on the agenda at the first meeting of the new council.

A decision to rescind Summerland’s controversial land exchange will be the first order of business once the new municipal council takes office.

Mayor-elect Peter Waterman said the resolution will be on the agenda at the first meeting of the new council. The council will be sworn in on Dec. 1 and the first scheduled meeting is Dec. 8.

During the election campaign, he had announced that if elected the first order of business for the new council would be a recommendation to withdraw the application before the Agricultural Land Commission.

The municipality’s proposed Urban Growth Plan called for the removal of 80.34 hectares of land within the Agricultural Land Reserve near the core of the community. In exchange, 91.7 hectares in the Prairie Valley area would be added to the land reserve. The application is now before the Agricultural Land Commission.

As a member of the outgoing council, Waterman was the sole member opposed to the land exchange. The land exchange was needed for the new growth plan. One that municipalities in British Columbia are required to have in place to accommodate future growth.

“There are a number of options that can be discussed,” municipal planner Ian McIntosh said. “We’ll see what council’s direction is.”

Waterman said the municipality will revert to the growth plan in the existing Official Community Plan for now. Summerland’s community plan, adopted in 2008, received council support in a 4-3 decision. Amendments were later made, in 2009 and 2010.

Waterman said growth can be accommodated by infilling and through subdivisions which are ready to go. The Wharton Street project would also provide development close to the downtown core. In the past decade, two developers have expressed a strong interest in a development for Wharton Street, at the site of the existing museum and library.

“There’s potential. It just takes the right conditions,” Waterman said.

During the election campaign, other members elected to the new council had also stated their opposition to the plan. Work on the Urban Growth Plan began early in 2013 and came to public hearing early this year, after roughly a year of preparation.