Wine Trail

Cars zip along the Wine Trail on Boucherie Road.

Despite its agrarian-sounding name, West Kelowna's Wine Trail is rife with infractions against farming regulations, regional officials say.

More enforcement action should be undertaken to curtail problems associated with the inappropriate deposition of fill materials on farmland, the construction of overly large wineries, and the storage of vehicles and materials on arable land, regional staff suggest.

"Over the last number of years, staff has become aware of a significant increase in the misuse of farmland," Todd Cashin, director of community services for the Central Okanagan Regional District, writes in a report going to directors on Friday.

"In response, staff is working towards a comprehensive compliance and enforcement strategy that is aimed a consistency, effectiveness and fairness throughout the Central Okanagan," Cashin says.

The Wine Trail is the marketing name given to Boucherie Road, West Kelowna's busiest municipal street, that stretches 10 kilometres through the city. There are more than 15 wineries located on or near the street.

"The Westside Wine Trail is home to some of the oldest and most well-established vineyards and wineries in the Okanagan Valley," the wine trail's website states. "Rolling hills of vineyards, scenic lake views, and leisurely rural roads provide an idyllic backdrop for discovering local flavours one sip at a time."

The regional district recently held a meeting involving representatives from the Kelowna, West Kelowna, other local municipalities, the Ministry of Agriculture, and Interior Health to discuss a range of farming matters.

Top issues said by participants to be reducing agricultural productivity included improper deposition of fill material; the 'large footprint of production facilities, warehouses and structures'; storage of vehicles, equipment and scrap metal on farmland; illegal businesses; multiple dwellings; and other non-farm uses of agricultural land.

Along with West Kelowna's Wine Trail, such problems are said to also be of particular concern in Southeast Kelowna, and the unincorporated area of Ellison, east of Kelowna.

In response, Cashin suggests there should be "better collaboration and engagement" between local officials and representatives of the Agricultural Land Commission, the provincial agency charged with regulating the appropriate use of farmland across B.C.

A memorandum of understanding should be struck between local governments and the ALC aimed at the more effective monitoring and regulation of relevant farming regulations, Cashin suggests.

And he also proposes an "educational brochure" be created and sent to all local owners of farmland to inform them what they can, and cannot, do with their agricultural properties. The impact of large production facilities will be discussed at a virtual meeting set for next month.

If such measures are undertaken on a regional basis, duplication at the local level can be avoided, food security will be enhanced, and farmland can be better protected "for generations to come", Cashin says.