An administrative motion to exclude approximately 10 hectares of land on Highway 5A from the Agricultural Land Commission (ALC) was turned down by the regional district at the September 6 regular meeting of the board.
The property, located one kilometre south of Alison Lake, is approximately 70 hectares in area.
The applicant was seeking to exclude approximately 10.23 hectares from the Agricultural Land Reserve (ALR) in order to align the boundary of the reserve to the toe of a steep slope above an arable portion of land.
Approximately 43.7 per cent of the property is situated in the ALR, with the non ALR portion consisting of hillside with slopes in excess of 30 per cent.
A subdivision application was submitted to the Ministry of Transportation that sought to subdivide the ALR portion of the property into two 8 hectare lots in February of 2009. The applicant was advised that approval from the ALC was necessary, and an application to do so was submitted to the regional district in June of 2009.
The Area “H” Advisory Planning Committee approved the subdivision application in August and it was authorized by the RDOS board in September – subject to the ALC being advised that the board did consider this proposal to “be consistent with established policy direction seeking to preserve and enhance farmland.”
In November of 2009, the ALC refused the application on the grounds that the property had more agricultural potential as a single unit.
A subsequent attempt by the applicant to address the ALC decision was deemed incomplete and returned to the applicant.
In May of 2011, the regional district issued a Watercourse Development Permit in relation to the proposed subdivision of an eight hectare parcel from the property as part of the approval process for the Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure, however, at the July 5, 2012 board meeting, directors chose to defer the application to the Area “H” APC.
In August of this year, the APC decided against authorizing the application to exclude 10.23 hectares to proceed to the ALC.
Area “H” Director Brad Hope offered an alternative recommendation to the motion put before the board – to not authorize the application – explaining to the directors that the property in question was once a productive farm that had not been worked for some time.
“This property is one of a few in the area that could produce three crops of hay,” he informed the board, “developers have looked at it for years.” Hope noted the sloping areas of the property had once been used as a woodlot and for grazing.
“If the motion to authorize this application passes, this will be gone as a farm,” Hope warned the board.
Hope’s alternative motion carried unanimously.