Webber Road farm

The property at 3620 Webber Rd. in the Glenrosa neighborhood of West Kelowna is currently used for cattle grazing. It must remain in the provincial land freeze and cannot be opened for development, the Agricultural Land Commission has ruled.

One of the last remaining farms in the West Kelowna neighbourhood of Glenrosa will not be opened for residential development.

The Agricultural Land Commission has rejected an exclusion request from the owners of a 1.4 ha property at 3620 Webber Rd.

"(We) find that the property has prime agricultural capability that could support the production of a wide range of agricultural crops," ALC board member Gerry Zimmermann, a retired Kelowna fire chief and former city councillor, writes in a decision released earlier this month.

Although the Webber Road farm is surrounded by houses, that fact alone does not render the property unsuitable for farming, Zimmermann says.

The site is not currently farmed but is rented out for cattle grazing so the landowner can retain its agricultural status and achieve a favourable tax assessment, Zimmerman noted.

The decision is somewhat unusual in that the ALC signalled through a policy resolution in the early 1990s that it would support exclusion of 15 Glenrosa farmlands, including the one in question, as the area grew in population.

Of those 15 properties, six parcels have been excluded since the early '90s and opened for development.

But in his ruling, released on June 12, Zimmermann said the ALC of today is not bound by the 1993 policy resolution.

He noted that "27 years have passed" since the resolution was adopted, and that the City of West Kelowna, successor to the Central Okanagan Regional District as the area's form of local government, no longer supports the continued exclusion of the remaining Glenrosa farmlands.

However, when West Kelowna city council considered the exclusion request in February of this year, it was supported by a six-three vote.

"There's a historic precedent set in this neighbourhood for exclusion," Coun. Stephen Johnston, one of the exclusion supporters, said at the time.

Countered Coun. Rick De Jong: "This is not marginal land. This is good land. Every time we let a good parcel of land like this out of the ALR, the speculation and price-driving it does on every other piece of ALR land that isn't being farmed goes up dramatically."

Council's deliberations on the matter, and subsequent vote, were only advisory in nature. The ALC, which oversees the regulation of all ALR land in B.C., had the fina word on whether the Webber Road property would be opened for development.