January 11, 2016 - 7:37 PM
KELOWNA - Kelowna councillor Luke Stack warned the City of Kelowna could expect a flood of applications from other like-minded landowners if they allowed a small RV park on an undersized piece of agricultural land.
“This will turn our city into one big RV park. There are hundreds of small lots like this throughout Kelowna who are going to say, 'hey, what about me',” Stack warned, even as he praised the integrity of the applicant. “In this city, everybody has an unproductive piece of land they think will make a good RV park.
Applicant Tyler Linttell currently grows hay but wants to turn his 14.24-acre parcel on KLO Road into an agricultural tourism destination with chicken farming, berry-growing and bee-keeping operations as the draw for the ten-slip RV park at the end of the property, butting up to Mission Creek.
Council was divided over the request to rezone the property to A1T which allows tourist accommodation and to give Linttell a one-off exemption from the bylaw to allow 10 spaces, double the allowable number.
Planning staff would not support the request, as per current regulations, although rural planning manager Todd Cashin told council that could have changed if Linttell had already began production.
“Our first preference is that Tyler would go away and do some farming and then reapply and I think I would be the first one to support that application,” Cashin said.
Cashin also pointed to a previous RV park approval where the owner was allowed to proceed on the promise of agricultural production that ultimately never happened, leaving the city with ongoing bylaw problems over year-round use.
Agricultural tourism accommodation and the limits placed on them are the most abused mixed use allowance of agricultural land, Cashin told council.
After debate of over two hours, council was split with half admiring Linttell’s plan and entrepreneurial spirit and the other coming down on the side of the tourism accommodation bylaw.
Coun. Mohini Singh said Linttell was a “rare breed” of young farmer and Coun. Charlie Hodge moved the applicant be given what he asked for.
“We need to have more young people farming now and in ten years,” he said. “To demand they grow the crops first…I don’t think it’s fair to make a decision based on the bad actions of other people.”
However Coun. Stack said the newer members of council had no memory of the struggles previous councillors went through when crafting the accommodations policy in the face of widespread abuse.
“Not just the citizens were mad, the neighbours were mad at us, the farmers were upset with us,” he said. “Those divisive issues have not gone away and members of this council have not had to deal with them. They will come back to haunt us.”
Mayor Colin Basran sided with Stack, praising Linttell’s plan, but asking for more up front from the applicant given his request for double the normal spaces.
“If this were in full production, I would give ten right now but my leap of faith ends at five,” Basran said.
In the end, council supported the application, sending to public hearing, before a final vote by council.
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News from © InfoTel News Ltd, 2016