Association of Citizens for Summerland

Wednesday, July 27, 2005

Sprawl is an Issue Everywhere!

The Summer 2005 issue of Saturday Night has an interesting article on the population explosion in Alberta. With few topographical constraints, urban sprawl has been given free reign. How much longer can this continue? Where is the water going to come from? Check out The New Ontario: Corridor of Power.

Urban sprawl is a national issue, even a global issue, but we can make a difference right here in our little town. I think we need to wake up and face the fact that we can't plant a house on every square inch of this planet! Yeah, we all want to live in that comfortable house with a yard; hey, I live in one right now! But something's going to give, eventually. Will it be a lack of water? a dessimated environment? climate change due to all the polluting traffic? or the inability to feed ourselves because there's no land left to farm? I know this sounds like doom and gloom and seems so far off in the future that we couldn't possibly need to worry about it yet, but can't we read the writing on the wall?

As the saying goes, "Think Globally, Act Locally". The town of Summerland is trudging along down the same well worn path of giving up our precious resources of water and land to the almighty dollar. These resources, which belong to the public now, are being sold to private interests, foreign interests, at that.

A passage from the Saturday Night article is startling, "Henry Vaux Jr., a Berkeley economist, recently observed that groundwater depletion in Asia could leave 150 million Chinese high and dry in 20 years. “It blows my mind,” he says, “that we are creating the same circumstances here.” No matter. Growth never looks forward or back, even as it consumes promised lands."

This course of action needs to change. We can do better than this.

Association Asks For Referendum

Following the recent Association meeting, the following letter was delivered to Council.

Request for Referendum
The following motion was moved, seconded, and carried by an almost unanimous majority during the Association’s meeting on Wednesday 20th July.
Moved: "This Association present a statement to Council requesting a referendum be held to determine if the community wants the proposed golf course development".
This is not a reaction to one particular development. The Association will press for a referendum on any development of such magnitude, because of the profound social, financial and other consequences to the community.
Please consider this letter to be a formal request for such a referendum.

Sunday, July 17, 2005

ACS: Next Presentation


. . . If you eat, you are involved in Agriculture!

Join us in an informative presentation followed by a
question and answer session on the importance of
Agricultural lands in BC’s future!

July 20 Wednesday 7:30 pm
Summerland Center Stage Theatre

Admission for non member by donation
For more information please contact John Cuthbert
( 250 494-7975 )

Guest Speakers~~~ DAVE SANDS & BARRY SMITH

Both speakers have extensive backgrounds and experience in Agricultural Resource and Land use management. Their passion, commitment and dedication to Agriculture continue in their volunteer work and membership in the ALR Protection and Enhancement Committee.

Dave Sands, BSc., P.Ag., is a sustainable agriculture advocate who recently retired as Regional Director for the South Coast Region after 30 years with the Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Fisheries. He was the manager for the Commission’s farmland lease program and conducted land evaluations and fine tuning for the ALR. Dave also chaired the Green Zone Committee which developed Codes for agricultural practices for farmers for the protection of the environment and the right to farm legislation. In 1996, Dave Sands was awarded “Agrologist of the year” by the Institute of BC Agrologists and is a founding member of the Agriculture in the Classroom Foundation”

Barry Smith, BES, MA, is a land use planner who has focused on planning issues largely in rural and agricultural settings. From 1981 until 2004 when he retired, Barry worked first with the BC Agricultural Land Commission as the Regional and Policy Planner and authored the highly regarded definitive guide, “Planning for Agriculture, Resource Materials”. He later joined the Ministry of Agriculture Food and Fisheries’ Resource Management Branch as Senior Land Use Specialist, focused on coordination of the Ministry’s Strengthening Farming program. Barry worked with Dave Sands on the Green Zone Committee and the implementation of the Strengthening Farming program and was awarded “Agriculturalist of the year” in 1996 by the Institute of BC Agrologists.

Please join us for this interesting and informative evening,

July 20, 7:30, Center Stage!

Wednesday, July 13, 2005

Initial Response to the Proposed Development

This is my initial response to the presentation on the Proposed Golf Course Development. While I will say that the design and layout is attractive and well thought out, this development defines sprawl wrapped in a pretty package. Billed as a complete community, its only connection to Summerland will be down the main artery of Prairie Valley, which will eventually become the funnel for over a thousand more vehicles at build-out. Preliminary traffic studies show the need for upgrades including four new sets of traffic lights. Do we want this? Although the development group would be supportive of alternate links to town such as hiking and biking trails, there are no definite plans for such.

This development is unabashedly based on the philosophy that growth continues to be inevitable. If there isn't enough water? We'll drill it. If there doesn't appear to be enough land, we'll find it. Even at the expense of the agricultural reserve.

I think we need to start taking a closer look at sustainability and planning for the day when our choices for further growth are a lot more limited.

Brandenburg made his pitch that Summerland needs this development because his millions will help with infrastructure. I certainly hope this Council is not approaching this development from a desperation perspective. I don't buy the "Knight in Shining Armour" bit. Let's not beat around the bush. We've got something and they want it. The developers are here to make money.

Sunday, July 10, 2005

Next Two Days Are Important

July 11th, Monday Morning: Council intends to sign the Memorandum of Understanding with Brandenburg Properties to explore the Proposed Golf Course Development.

July 11th, Monday Evening, 7.00pm: On the Agenda: Brandenburg Properties will give a presentation to Council on the Proposed Golf Course Development & Neighbourhood Plan. Council will accept questions from the floor on the 2004 Annual Report. The Alternative Approval Process will be completed and bylaw is recommended to pass. Council will also consider giving three readings to the increased remuneration package for Council and Mayor.

If there was ever a Council Meeting to attend, this is the one. I can't believe they intend to stuff all this into one meeting!!!

July 12th, Tuesday: Brandenburg Properties will hold a Public Open House to present their Neighbourhood Plan, and Golf Course Proposal. This will be held at the IOOF hall on Main Street and doors will be open from 10:00am to 8:00pm. Presentations will be given at 12:15pm, 5:00pm and 7:00pm. Ask questions! Voice your opinion! See you there!

Friday, July 08, 2005

Okatoks, Alberta~A Town With a Vision

There is a town in Alberta, Okatoks, that seems to have faced the same cross-roads as Summerland and has chosen the road less travelled. The decision makers in Okatoks have decided to reach for the goal of a truly sustainable community, and do the work it takes to get there.

In 1998, Okotoks was at an intersection. To the right was the conventional
approach to community planning - assume the inevitability of growth, which meant
annexing and planning for infrastructure expansion.We would eventually need
costly regional utilities (like water and sewage treatment). With growth, we
would also struggle to maintain or improve the community qualities Okotokians
hold close to their hearts.To the left was a road little travelled....

Please visit the Town of Okatoks. The plan for sustainability is not a pipe dream. It's not re-inventing the wheel. It's been done before and there is help out there to actually accomplish it. As a community, we just need to want it.

Top Notch View

You can use Google to get a great aerial view of Summerland. Zoom in for a closer look, or zoom out to see how we fit into the rest of the world.

Thursday, July 07, 2005

Response to Council Press Release

Here is my response to the Press Release now on the Municipal website regarding the OCP rewrite and those opposed to the direction it is taking.

I am happy to hear from Mr. Cogbill that council is now listening. As he says, Council wants to incorporate the wishes of all those in the community. The results of their own public opinion polls have been in favour of a slow rate of growth and protection of the ALR lands, so I would expect the forthcoming third draft of the OCP to reflect that. The many growth projections that have been quoted recently do come from the second draft OCP, and as far as speculation goes, who would have thought the market could support a possible golf course and resort hotel next to a landfill? In the Okanagan, it appears that "If you build it, they will come".

Municipal Council and Staff have been receiving a fair bit of negative feed-back of late, and some have responded by painting those with an opposing opinion as afraid of change or simply wanting zero growth. I am not saying no to all growth. I am saying, slow down, make sure each and every development meets the highest standards of community sustainability and benefit to all. It's not NIMBY'ism, it's Smart Growth. It's recognizing the realities of climate change and a finite resource of water! It's recognizing the importance of BC's agricultural lands! It's recognizing that if we want Summerland to grow, it has to be more creative, higher and better, not bigger! I dare say that the current decision makers are suffering from "Head in the Sand'ism". It is they who are afraid of change, a changing world and changing expectations.

Summerland is the jewel of the Okanagan and the Okanagan is the jewel of BC. People want to live here because it is so special. We can afford to be choosy! We should be focusing our efforts on developments such as the Wharton Street initiative. How about attracting a sustainable community project such as that on Burnaby Hill at SFU to compliment our coming Agricultural University? Infill, densify, create multi-use buildings, let's be cutting edge! Leave the farmlands alone. The motivation for densification won't be there if we embrace and facilitate sprawl.

We need to plan for sustainability now. An economy based on continued and infinite population growth will ultimately collapse when we reach our topographical and water limitations . We shouldn't leave that mess for our children's children. I am hoping it is the old fashioned and out- dated status quo opinions that will eventually die their own bizarre death.