West Bench: Traditionalists versus Industrialists
Just in case you think the stakes are low in an OCP review, I thought I should make everyone aware of an emerging controversy on the West Bench: Traditionalists versus Industrialists. Although both views are complex and serious, I can sketch them as follows:
- The traditionalists want the West Bench to be like it always has been: rural residential. They do not like commercial vehicles, monster garages, or any activity that is not either unambiguously residential or agricultural.
- The industrialists point to the decline of agriculture on the West Bench and the impossibility of subdividing. They ask: "What is the point of a 1.6 acre West Bench lot beyond a really big lawn?" These people want to use their land to, for example, store equipment related to their livelihoods. Doing this now contravenes our rural residential zoning bylaw. The industrialists want the bylaw changed to reflect the new reality.
Naturally, this debate applies primarily to the original West Bench. An explicit objective of the Veterans Land Act project on the West Bench was to provide vets with enough land to grow fruit and thereby supplement their incomes. This model was not adopted in subsequent subdivisions, such as Sage Mesa, Husula, and certainly not Westwood Properties. But the legacy of the VLA on the West Bench is many large lots (1.6 - 2.0 acres) with few fruit trees.
I am not going to take sides in this debate other than to make the following observation: There are more West Bench industrialists than you might think. They don't say much (likely for fear of attracting bylaw enforcement--Roza at the RDOS has been very busy on the West Bench lately). But take a drive down your street and look in yards and driveways. You will see that different people have different views of what the West Bench should be.
(Comments--including anonymous comments--are welcome below.)