Kelowna city council is willing to “take a chance” on a young farmer and his family by throwing its preliminary support behind his request to allow 10 recreational vehicle sites on a property where just five are allowed now.
Tyler Lintell went before council Monday to plead his case after city staff recommended against sending the proposal to vary the number of RV sites allowed on his 5.7 hectare property in order to further his planned agricultural use of the property through agri-tourism.
But while the proposal to send the issue to a public hearing was approved by council in a close 5-4 vote, some on council who voted against expressed concern the plans Lintell has may not come to fruition.
“It’s based on a dream,” said Mayor Colin Basran, who said he was torn on the issue because he knows Lintell personally, appreciates his passion for farming and hopes to see the plans work out.
“But what if they don’t,” he asked. “We’ll have another RV park.”
And this one would be on viable agricultural land.
Lintell said he has entered into an agreement—yet to be finalized in writing—with a neighbouring farmer to work a large section of his land in order to expand the neighbour’s market garden operation.
There is also a plan to create an apiary and chicken coops have already been built for egg production.
The farm, on KLO Road next to the Mission Creek Greenway, has been owned by the Lintell family since 2009 and has supported itself so far with hay production.
Several of the councillors who supported allowing the extra RV sites—not currently allowed under the existing zoning because the farm is not big enough—praised Lintell for both his youth and his passion for wanting to operate a productive farm.
It is unusual for young people to want to be farmers these days, said Coun. Mohini Singh, noting the average age of a farmer here now is 55.
Opponents of the plan said the city’s current policy, set up by a former council, was put in place to help protect farms from being turned into RV parks and to appease concerned neighbours.
But supporters said they were satisfied Lintell’s plan would not result in that happening.
They said the sites would be located at the back of the property, not along the road, so they will be sheltered from view.
Lintell said he needs the RV spaces to help pay for the agricultural plans he has for the farm.
And he disagreed with the position of staff that the proposal would not benefit agriculture, arguing it will help make the rest of the farm more productive.
The issue of allowing RVs to be parked on farms for limited lengths of time as part of the growing agri-tourism sector has been controversial here in recent years.
While supporters say it can help farm families pay the bills, critics say allowing them on farmland adversely affects a farm’s potential for growing produce.