The majority of Salmon Arm council gave preliminary approval to an expansion of the city’s urban containment boundary in order to prepare a 2.7-acre field behind Westgate Public Market for development.
The field is the southern portion of a 5.7-acre (2.5 hectare) property formerly home to Canadian Tire that was excluded from the Agricultural Land Reserve (ALR) in 1997.
In addition to expansion of the urban containment boundary, the application from Bill Laird and Westgate Building Ltd. requests a redesignation in the Official Community Plan (OCP) of the southern portion of the property from Salmon Valley Agriculture to Highway Service/Tourist Commercial.
Also receiving preliminary approval was a rezoning from A1, agriculture zone, to C3, service commercial zone.
The exclusion of the field from the ALR was contingent on a fence going up on the southern property line as well as a 15-metre ALR buffer, which Laird told the city’s April 6 planning meeting has been done.
“We are following up on opportunity offered by the ALC (agricultural land commission) in 1997…” he said. “Our goal is to get this property so we can get a use for it.”
He noted that it’s now a fallow field. He said 20th (Street) – the gravel road that runs north-south beside Westgate, will have to be developed.
A drainage ditch/creek runs along the west side of the property, so Laird hired a qualified environmental professional whose report was submitted to the Ministry of Environment. The ministry had concerns about the ditch/creek.
“In ‘92 when the building was built, there was pavement taken right out to the ditch. The ditch is called Hobbs Creek but it’s basically drainage for the upland farmland,” he said.
“About three months of the year it’s dry. So I’ve got some work to do with the ministry of environment/forests.”
He said one recommendation was that trees be planted, which he’s done. A gravel area that was paved will also need to be repaired.
Coun. Chad Eliason raised concerns about whether the expansion of the urban containment boundary would put pressure on the city to even out the boundary line to include properties to the west, something he said he couldn’t see the ALC allowing.
Kevin Pearson, city director of development services, said there are no plans to ask the ALC to exclude land in order to expand the boundary to the west at this time, although there have been “very hypothetical, conceptual” discussions among staff and various property owners. Couns. Kevin Flynn and Tim Lavery said they didn’t see it affecting this application, given that the land in question has already been removed from the ALR.
Mayor Alan Harrison said he would not be in favour of removing agricultural land from the Salmon Valley area in the future, but this property is already excluded. He said the expansion of the urban containment boundary would allow it to be usable, especially with upcoming changes to the highway.
When council voted whether the proposals should be moved forward to first reading, which was given at the April 12 council meeting, Eliason was alone in voting against the change to the urban containment boundary and the OCP, but the rezoning vote passed unanimously.