Kelowna’s agriculture plan to get a reboot

Kelowna city council was informed Monday of a 16-month effort to amend the agricultural plan its used since 1998.

The city’s guide for dealing with Kelowna’s farming issues is getting a reboot.

Kelowna city council was informed Monday of a 16-month effort to amend the agricultural plan its used since 1998. The new plan, city staff said, will aim to better identify opportunities to strengthen farming as an economic driver, while increasing the amount of locally grown food.

“Our municipality is one that is under tremendous pressure from all sides,” said Coun. Mohini Singh, noting that council wants to see those working in the industry thrive, while the community’s interests are also protected.

How to maintain that balance, however, is increasingly difficult to pinpoint, councillors said.

“This is becoming a hot issue,” said Coun. Brad Sieben, before he drew attention to one element of the plan that put focus on local government’s market opportunities.

This, Sieben was told, will examine the best way the city can support the agriculture sales.

Among the ideas out there are pop up fruit stands on non agriculturally zoned areas.

Sieben also asked if the aim of the plan would be to support the ability to use agricultural land in the future or is it to intensify the way it’s currently used.

“We have a lot of agricultural land out there that’s for hay,”he said.

“(Is the goal) to push that into production?”

The answer to that is unclear, but staff said while Kelowna boasts a tremendous amount of agricultural land, if something  drastic were to happen it’s clear that there’s not enough  food produced within city boundaries to sustain the population.

Kelowna has roughly 11,006 hectares that are agriculturally zoned—that’s roughly 55 per cent of the land base. Of that, 8,521 hectares are in the Agricultural Land Reserve.

The document will be used to inform decisions on how those lands are dealt with, and the Agricultural Land Commission will use it as a reference when it gets applications for applications for land within its purview.

The beginning phases of coming up with a new plan are already underway. As the process moves along, the city will reach out to the community and all who are affected by agriculture to weigh in.

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