Council is considering removing a property on 36 Avenue from the agriculture land reserve. (File photo)
By Dale Boyd
Osoyoos town council has differing opinions on a parcel of land in the township looking to be excluded from the province’s agricultural land reserve to develop residential housing.
Developers are applying to eventually rezone the property at 4107 36 Ave. and according to a staff report from director of planning and development services, Gina MacKay, the “developer intents to move forward with a rezoning proposal to enable a multi-family residential development.
The property has not been used for agricultural purposes for several years and “is the last parcel of property on the east bench within town boundaries with residential development potential,” MacKay also notes in her report to council.
Coun. C.J. Rhodes said questions of agricultural reserve properties have been “contentious” within council chambers.
“Irregardless (sic) of what our council feels about it, or what resolution or what idea or opinion that we may come up with, almost every application has been stonewalled by the ALC (Agricultural Land Commission),” Rhodes said. “I get it, I understand, I know protecting agricultural land is imperative in our province, but our community is starved for land both residential and commercial.”
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Mayor Sue McKortoff had a different take, saying she has “lived here long enough” to have seen the parcel used for agricultural purposes.
“It’s unfortunate that the owner of the property has not continued to do that, there is agricultural land all around it. It is perfectly acceptable, in my mind, from what I’ve read,” McKortoff said, adding there are unsold residences in the surrounding areas.
She said she was “certainly not in favour,” of applying to remove the land from the ALR, also referencing the denial from the ALC in 2010 to remove another agricultural property at 4927 Main St. despite council support of that proposal at the time.
“It think it’s so important to keep it agricultural, it can be, very easily, (the owners) have chosen not to,” McKortoff said.
The vote to support the application to remove the land from the agricultural reserve was defeated 2-2 with McKortoff and Coun. Jim King voting against the motion. Instead, council voted in favour of revisiting the issue during the creation of the next official community plan.