By ROY WOOD
An attempt to enlist Osoyoos council support for an exclusion from the Agricultural Land Reserve (ALR) of the last developable property on the town’s East Bench was rejected this afternoon.
The discussion surrounding the exclusion proposal revealed something of a rift on council on the appropriate role of the Agricultural Land Commission (ALC) in relation to land within the town limits.
The property is question is a two-and-a-half-acre parcel south of 36th Avenue and west of 41st Street.
The owners requested the town’s endorsement of their application to exclude the land from the ALR in the hopes of eventually creating a multi-family residential development.
A report to council from planning director Gina MacKay supported the exclusion. “(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.”
Councillor CJ Rhodes spoke in favour of supporting the application but lamented that whenever these sorts of things go to the ALC, they seem to get “stonewalled.”
Rhodes said the town is “starved” for developable land and that he objects to the ALC’s control of town property in the ALR. It’s the mayor and council who “need to maintain the care and control of the land in the town,” he said.
Mayor Sue McKortoff took a somewhat contrary view, saying she is not in favour of the exclusion, pointing out that the ALC has an important role in protecting farmland in the province.
She said that every letter the town has received on the issue is against the exclusion. She added that the reason the land has not been under cultivation is simply that the owners decided not to farm it.
McKortoff disagreed with Rhodes, saying there are many examples of former ALR land that has been excluded for residential development in the town.
In the end, council voted to look at the application again when it comes time for the town’s Official Community Plan revie