January 11, 2016 - 6:30 PM
KELOWNA - A workshop on agriculture Monday morning, Jan. 11, turned into an opportunity for some Kelowna city councillors to vent their frustration with the Agricultural Land Commission.
“If you ask me, it’s ass-backward,” Coun. Maxine DeHart said.
DeHart and Coun. Tracy Gray both panned the process where applications by property owners to have land excluded from the Agricultural Land Reserve or for a non-farm use are submitted to council first to decide whether they support it or not.
That non-binding decision and council comments are then forwarded to the Agricultural Land Commission which makes a final decision, which may or may not line up with that of council.
“We’re coming on something we have no control over,” Gray said. “Frankly, I think the whole thing is quite dysfunctional. We go through this huge process and we’re not even the ones that have the authority to make the final decision.”
But Coun. Gail Given defended the process as flawed but the only way the city and residents can have a voice.
“I think I would be more concerned if the public didn’t have the opportunity to speak,” Given said. “At least it’s done in a very public venue. Otherwise, it wouldn’t see the light of day.”
Mayor Colin Basran sided with Given, citing the case were Manteo resort on Lakeshore Drive was granted a license to construct a 160-slip marina without council hearing about it.
“As onerous and painful as the process is, I don’t want to hear about it after it’s been approved by someone else,” Basran said. “Without it, we give up the limited control we have. I still want to see that mechanism in place.”
In the end, council agreed to invite the chair and the CEO of the Agricultural Land Commission to address council and give the politicians an opportunity to discuss their concerns first hand.
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News from © InfoTel News Ltd, 2016