Farmworker Accommodation - Meadow Valley
Updated: Feb 26, 2020
It is very clear that the residents of Meadow Valley and Faulder have a great respect for the land and a love for the way of life that can only be found in a rural community. And I get that. My parents live on 20 acres in the foothills of Alberta - and it is a lifestyle that runs deep and land stewardship is part of the deal. I want to first thank everyone who attended both the Public Information Meeting (PIM) in November and the January Public Hearing (PH) in Summerland.
At the Feb. 20, 2020 Board Meeting, the Board pass Zoning Amendment Bylaw No. 2461, 2019. It is important to note that this zoning amendment is specific to the farmworkers accommodation at 48 Savanna Road (Bearfoot Acres). You can read the staff report here, it starts on page 170, on the agenda.
You may wonder with so many residents opposed to the zoning amendment, why did the Board (including me) vote in favour? I voted in favour because the amendment aligns with the Area's OCP and is supported by the Ministry of Agriculture, the Agricultural Land Commission and the Advisory Planning Commission. I believe that if we are going to have land designated as ALR, then we need to support the economic vitality of a farm. This zoning amendment supports the economic vitality of a 65 acre cherry orchard.
Area "F" OCP reads:
7.3 Faulder / Meadow Valley Faulder/Meadow Valley is a rural area west of Summerland. The Faulder area is predominantly rural residential, while Meadow Valley is predominantly agricultural and largely in the ALR. Residents access services in nearby Summerland.
7.3.1 Policies The Regional Board:
.2 Supports the protection of source water in Faulder/Meadow Valley and will consider the establishment of a development permit area to achieve this goal. Two water licences have been issued to the property. Water licences are under the authority of the Province. There is an onsite water supply system (pump house) and a lagoon that collects water in the spring and according to the owner, usually still holds water at the end of the season. The Zoning Amendment Bylaw is specific to farmworker housing. The farmworker housing is calculated to use less than 2% of the water already permitted within the current water licences. The 2% increase in water use by the workers will not push the water used beyond what is already permitted by the province.
.4 Encourages FireSmart best practices on private land in Faulder and Meadow Valley to reduce wildfire hazards in the area. The owner shared that in the past, their lagoon was used for fire suppression by BC Fire Service. It is also noted that the orchard is irrigated which of course reduces the risk of fire. Given that the owners of the property will have family living onsite, mitigating wildfire risk will be a shared priority between the owner and the farmworkers.
.6 Supports maintaining and enhancing the farming lifestyle in Meadow Valley and will only consider agricultural uses in the area. With over 65 acres of cherry orchard, labour is required to harvest the crop. The OCP supports maintaining and enhancing the farming lifestyle which means that we have to support the economic vitality of farmers.
The other concern, of course, is the impact of an additional 41 - 65 seasonal residents. The location isn't ideal. It isn't close to community amenities or services. But, it is where the farm is and by having workers reside on the property rather than elsewhere should help to minimize the traffic as the workers won't be bused in and out daily. However, traffic will increase. The workers will be taken into town for supplies and trucks will be required to move the product. Conditions of the approval from the ALC include that the structure is moveable (not permanent), a registration of a covenant (remove the structure once it is no longer required for farm workers). The workers will also have internet and the camp will be dry (no alcohol).
As always, your comments are welcome and I am happy to discuss further.
Thank you for reading,