Column: Land is limited, let’s make the most of it

In Plain View by Lachlan Labere

There’s an old saying about land being a good investment because they’re not making any more.

With the site selection process underway for the City of Salmon Arm’s wastewater treatment plant, land availability and use will no doubt be part of the public conversation.

A 19,000 square-foot, single-storey furniture store proposed for an undeveloped property along 10th Street SW also has people talking about efficient, sustainable land use.

Salmon Arm is a growing city contained by mountains, a lake, agricultural and neighbouring First Nations band lands.

Over the past few years we’ve experienced booms in population growth and residential development. The city continues to benefit from both, with affordable housing making up part of that residential growth, thanks in part to the BC Housing/Canadian Mental Health Association project at 250 Fifth Avenue SW.

Read more: Interest in multi-family, commercial development picking up in Salmon Arm

Read more: Home building goes through the roof in Salmon Arm

Read more: Consultant scopes out sites for Salmon Arm sewage treatment upgrade

While all of this is positive, it goes without saying that the more land we use, there is less to develop. So how we choose to grow becomes increasingly important – it makes sense that we look to maximize outcomes where and when possible in a way that takes into account future housing needs. This philosophy is shared in Salmon Arm’s official community plan and growth management strategy which emphasizes infill and the “intensification of land use in order to make efficient use of existing infrastructure, and to reduce the environmental and financial costs of growth.”

For a long time the 10th Street SW property, where the furniture store is proposed to go, has sat empty. A zoning amendment application submitted to the city, asking it be rezoned from a C-7 Shopping Centre Commercial Zone to a C-3 Service Commercial Zone, includes plans for three buildings. The lot is clearly ideal for commercial development, but is positioned for so much more. With its proximity to Blackburn Park, the mall, existing sidewalks, etc., not pursuing, say, a commercial/residential mix (commercial below, residential above), seems like a missed opportunity.

When it comes to land, Salmon Arm is indeed a small city, which is why we need to look for those big ideas on how we grow it.

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