An agricultural park pitched for Vernon's BX Ranchlands | iNFOnews | Thompson-Okanagan's News Source

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An agricultural park pitched for Vernon's BX Ranchlands

Image Credit: SUBMITTED: Paul Williamson
November 08, 2020 - 12:00 PM

The Regional District of North Okanagan is looking into the possibility of turning the BX Ranchlands into an agricultural park.

The regional district recently passed a motion for staff to work with Kwantlen Polytechnic University to look at the feasibility of turning the BX Ranchlands into an education agricultural park and facility.

It's a move applauded by the BX Swan Lake Community Association who has been campaigning to protect the Ranchlands for several years.

BX Swan Lake Community Association member Leith Skinner said surveys conducted in 2017 found strong community support for an agricultural park.

Skinner said an agricultural park can be many things but ultimately focuses on locally produced food and education.

Skinner said the Ranchlands could give opportunities to expand the existing wetlands at the ranch, reintroduce indigenous plants, as well as leasing plots to young farmers. With a strong focus on education, the agricultural park could be a place where school children could learn about where food comes from.

"I think that having control over our food system in any way that we can is important," Skinner said. "I think that buying local is important, producing local is important, teaching our children vegetable grow a vegetable garden is important, helping our young farmers get a bit of a start with a mentor is important."

The future of the BX Ranchland has been in flux in recent years with moves from the Regional District to sell the 137 site which sits in the Agricultural Land Reserve and could not be used for housing. At the beginning of 2018 plans to sell the site were put on hold.

Skinner hopes the feasibility study will be favourable and says this opportunity to create an agricultural park would protect the site for generations to come.

The BX Swan Lake Community Association survey can be found here.

To contact a reporter for this story, email Ben Bulmer or call (250) 309-5230 or email the editor. You can also submit photos, videos or news tips to the newsroom and be entered to win a monthly prize draw.

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