January 08, 2016 - 4:30 PM
KELOWNA - Agri-business is under pressure in Kelowna, facing changes and challenges locally and globally, requiring a new and improved agricultural plan.
Forty per cent of the city is within the Agricultural Land Reserve, restricting its use to agriculture and related activities, Kelowna city councillors will hear from staff.
“Agricultural land is woven throughout the City of Kelowna’s urban fabric adding beauty and value to our community, as well as creating ongoing pressures and challenges that must be met as we grow, evolve and diversify our city,” writes planner specialist planner Melanie Steppuhn in a report to council.
Councillors will hear local farmers and orchardists must increasingly deal with a broad range of issues from climate change to temporary farm labour to rising agricultural land prices in the Okanagan.
Kelowna agricultural land averages $98,000 an acre compared to $63,000 in the Fraser Valley and as low as $750 acre in other parts of B.C.
The report also touches on population growth. The Central Okanagan is expecting a population increase of 45,000 by 2030, increasing pressure on the local food supply.
Farmers are also aging and retiring without being replaced. The number of farm families dropped by three per cent in Kelowna from 2009 to 2011.
While possible problems loom large in the report, it also looks at the opportunities for local agriculture including expanded agri-tourism and new export markets.
As an example, almost $4 million worth of Okanagan cherries were exported to China in 2014, with the potential to increase that fivefold by 2020.
City councillors will hear the full presentation during an agricultural workshop Monday morning, Jan. 11, at Kelowna City Hall.
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News from © InfoTel News Ltd, 2016