Like many people, we were pleased to hear of the generosity of Jerry Thompson, the landowner who has proposed donating close to 20 acres of his land for the future site of a downtown campus of Okanagan College.
Given that the downtown campus committee had to give up hope recently of settling the campus on the former JL Jackson site because of lack of funds, the announcement is particularly welcome.
The land is within the Agricultural Land Reserve, which is reason to give pause to the idea. Preserving agricultural land is, of course, of prime importance. In this case, however, there could be agricultural benefits to the exchange.
Community consultation has shown that agriculture is seen as the best alternative as a flagship program for the new campus. Put that kind of programming in the middle of agricultural land and it could be, if done well, an excellent match.
City and college officials have said it might be two years before an application is made to the Agricultural Land Commission to remove the land from the ALR.
These will be an important two years, as the plans developed and research done will be crucial in not only convincing the ALC but, most importantly, of creating a viable campus, one which operates with integrity in the agricultural valley and community in which it would sit.
Thanks are due to the landowner for his generous gift. If done thoughtfully, this campus could transform Salmon Arm into and sustain it as a thriving college town.