Vernon councillor alarmed over 'cavalier' attitude over agricultural land

VERNON - A Vernon councillor is concerned her colleagues are letting the preservation of agricultural land fall by the wayside.

A majority of council voted to send a letter to the Agricultural Land Commission recommending a piece of property at 15 Street and Pottery Road be removed from the land reserve to be used for housing development.

“I think at one point we’re going to maybe wake up and say we have no land for (agriculture uses),” Coun. Juliette Cunningham said.

She worried the decision sets a precedent for future applications, and said council should not be ‘so cavalier of disposing of our agricultural lands.’

Council decided in a split 5-7 vote to support taking the land out of the reserve largely because of a need for more affordable housing in the city and because the land is of limited agricultural value. The soil is reported to be type 2, meaning it has moderate limitations that restrict the range of crops. 

“To me it looks like a natural progression of the community in that area,” Coun. Brian Quiring said, noting it is close to schools, the growing Polson Place Mall and other services. “I think it is one of those situations it does make sense to support development on that property… It’s a small enough piece we can justify the land use.”

Coun. Catherine Lord pointed out much of the city’s inventory of land available for housing developments is in the hillside area, including the Predator Ridge neighbourhood, which is typically more expensive. According to a housing assessment, the average-income household in Vernon cannot afford a single family home in most neighbourhoods, pointing to a need for more apartments, townhouses and duplexes.

“This is a largely unusable parcel of land agriculturally, but it can provide a number of families with affordable housing,” Coun. Scott Anderson said.

The application will now go back to the Agricultural Land Commission, which has the final say on whether it will be approved.

To contact a reporter for this story, email Charlotte Helston at or call 250-309-5230. To contact the editor, email or call 250-718-2724.

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