A proposal submitted to the Agricultural Land Commission (ALC) was presented to the Village of Pemberton (British Columbia, Canada) council and mayor on February 15, seeking to create a new RV Park for the village.
As per a report, once approved, the proposed park will be situated at 1641 Airport Road.
The park will comprise 91 individual sites that will operate in seasonal models.
From mid-April through October, the park will serve the summer’s short-term tourist market, while during the winter months, the camping sites will be available for long-term stays.
The issue is that the proposed park’s location falls within the Agricultural Land Reserve (ALR), a province-wide land-use zone that promotes and preserves agricultural land in B.C.
For the RV park to be approved for non-farm use, the VOP mayor and council will need to recommend that the ALC approve the proposal for the property to be utilized for non-agricultural purposes.
As per Pemberton Planner Colin Brown, who presented the report to the council, numerous local agencies, including the Pemberton Valley Dyking District, Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure, and the Pemberton and Valley Chamber of Commerce, have already expressed support for the application for the ALC.
However, when the plan was presented to residents in adjacent neighborhoods, some questions were raised regarding the project.
“With the ALC process, there is no requirement for public notice, but staff always encourage the applicants to communicate with the immediate neighbors, so they are aware of a pending application,” said Brown. “So with that, the neighbors contacted staff and submitted a letter opposing the application, citing a number of concerns over density and impact to the area.”
Although some councilors were supportive of the RV park plan, the main concerns brought up by community members were also shared by Councilors Leah Noble and Amica Antonelli.
According to Councilor Antonelli, most of the land within the Pemberton Valley is classified Class 1 farmland, which means it is the most suitable for farming. However, with the park likely to require soil removal and replacement with filler, there’s no return of the land to use as a farm in the future, she added.
“Preserving agricultural land is very, very important. In B.C., only one percent of the province is Class 1 farmland, so while we might look around and think, ‘oh, we’ve got so much,’ we actually have very little. And I think the legacy of the ALR is protecting the best of our farmland, and that is super important to me and to a lot of people in our community,” Antonelli said.
“I think our role should be to encourage agriculture on agricultural lands. And for the most part, that means not encouraging non-farm uses. Everybody who owns land in the valley has the potential to make a lot of money by implementing some kind of non-farm use. And what I think we should be encouraging is using the land in the form that it’s in, supporting agriculture, supporting the preservation of the soil, and leaving this long-term legacy for our community.”
Meanwhile, Councilor Ted Craddock said they don’t have the authority to impose upon a person buying a piece of land to farm it, which could lead to the property sitting there unused for many years.
“So that’s a concern I have, and like you, I think I’d like to hear from the ALC and see what their vision is. And then when we talk to the public through the Official Community Plan Bylaw and the ALC approves it, I think that would be a great opportunity to talk to the community about those concerns,” Craddock said.
The council decided to submit the proposal to the ALC with the identified concerns before proceeding with the application.