Glenmore residents who lamented the lack of a local public space received some good news Monday afternoon.
The Agricultural Land Commission has given the city the green-light to use 10.5 hectares of land within the Agricultural Land Reserve for a Glenmore recreation park.
It means Glenmore will one day be equipped with sports fields, courts, trails, open play areas and community buildings in the northwest area of the city, although it won’t happen right away.
The rezoning is a “big, critical first step,” said City of Kelowna parks and public spaces manager Terry Barton as it will allow for further planning groundwork.
In the year ahead, Barton said, city staff will be able to proceed with designing park, although it will be completed in phases over multiple years.
“We’re very pleased it’s finally come about,” said John Harling, president of the Glenmore Valley Community Association.
“This has been our priority as a residents’ association for years.”
Glenmore, he explained, is home to around 23,000 Kelowna residents, but its size has never sparked development of shared public infrastructure.
“We’re under-serviced in general,” he said, noting there isn’t even a public hall where residents can meet.
“We’re even the lowest serviced in terms of parks, retail outlets and so on…this will create some real opportunities.”
Harling acknowledged that moves to build up Glenmore can be attributed to the current council, and he believes Coun. Graeme James was the neighbourhood’s behind-the-scenes champion.
“We’re very thankful for the current council, and councillor James in particular,” he said. “This happened fast.”
Although the land won’t be farmed, conditions have been agreed upon so it won’t negatively impact surrounding agricultural land.
Construction of a chain link fence and planted buffer zones around the new parkland is one of the conditions agreed upon to ensure the viability of the surrounding farms.
There’s also a requirement to rehabilitate land occupied by the Glenmore fire station after it is eventually relocated.
Upon making the decision to grant the city’s request, the ALC released a report noting that the city should be commended for its “long-term, planning-based approach to this project.”
“The commission is also encouraged by the city’s strong commitment to agriculture and the ARL, and its pro-active and creative response to mitigation,” reads the report.
The ALC hearing was held Oct. 25 in Burnaby and the commission’s ruling was received Nov. 22 by the City of Kelowna.
City council was advised of the ruling and agreed to the ALC conditions at its Nov. 28 meeting, after which neighbours of the future facility were also informed of the decision.