West Bench, Faulder, Okanagan Lake West
As you can see from the story, I voted against the proposed subdivision of agricultural land (here is the location of the parcel in question). My opposition to this may be controversial so an explanation is in order: As was made abundantly clear during the debate, the issue has absolutely nothing to do with the Gleaners or the work they do. Rather, our Official Community Plan and Regional Growth Strategy make it very clear that the integrity of agricultural land is a long-term strategic priority for the region. As such, subdivision (and thus densification) of agricultural land should only occur as a last resort. The issue before the RDOS board was whether this is indeed a last resort or whether viable alternatives to subdivision exist. In my view, Director Patton from Electoral Area 'C' made a reasonable case in favor of an alternative plot of nearby land which is not in the ALR (a map of the Sawmill Road site). He also outlined alternatives which left the Gleaners at their current site are but did not involve subdivision. Unfortunately, I saw no convincing evidence that these alternatives had been explored systematically by the Gleaners. Hence my reluctance to vote in favor of a last-resort measure.
At the end of the day, my view is this: subdivision of agricultural land is a one-way street—once it is done, it is irreversible. So, although an exception here or an exception there may seem reasonable, the cumulative effect of exceptions over time is a patchwork of incoherent land use. One does not have to drive too far in the valley to see examples of this.
Any comments? This issue will be going to public hearing before it comes back to the RDOS for approval.
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