The District of Lake Country council chamber was packed for a public hearing on Tuesday, May 1.
Almost every member of the public in attendance was there to either comment or listen to the views of their neighbours in regard to the rezoning of properties on Seaton Road, bylaw 814, dubbed the “Farmer Bylaw.”
As is the procedure for public hearings, council was free to ask questions of those who took to the podium, but did not deliberate on the issues or offer any comment.
The Farmer Bylaw has attracted considerable public interest and opposition from people living in the area. The land is sandwiched between Okanagan Centre and Seaton Roads, surrounded to the south and west by the old gravel pits.
To the east of the subject properties is a relatively small parcel of homes and churches. To the north is Agricultural Land Reserve farmland and residential development, including the new Sage Glen neighbourhood.
The land in question has been granted conditional exclusion from the Agricultural Land Reserve. It has been designated for future light industrial in the Lake Country Official Community Plan.
Some of the land owners have applied to have the new light industrial zoning applied to their land.
The public hearing started with Peter Klimuck defending the wishes of land owners who hope to have the zoning change applied.
The owners have collected 130 names on a petition in support of the rezoning application.
Klimuck also pointed out there are five owners of the land in question, four of whom are in favour of the rezoning and who collectively own 98 per cent of the land.
It was also pointed out that at the OCP consultation, nobody raised any concerns.
A representative from the Free Methodist Church, which owns two parcels, came forward in support of their rezoning request.
The Free Methodists said the land is no longer conducive to camp activities, is unusable for the church and is presenting a hardship.
The representative summed up the point of view of the church, saying: “The land is not suitable for agriculture, is not suitable for camping and it can be better used to provide jobs.”
Several other people ventured forward to voice their support of the rezoning, but overall the landowners had slim support at the public hearing.
The bulk of the speakers were deeply opposed to the possible changes.
Speakers eloquently put forward their love of the bucolic charms of the area, their expectation that ALR was permanent and that their life decisions had been based on that belief.
Resident after resident spoke to the special qualities of the area, including the lack of noise pollution and its beauty.
Diane Wilde, the owner of a property opposed to the rezoning, offered several suggestions that could possibly temper the impact of the rezoning on area residents.
The possibility of a compromise position with extended buffering along Seaton Road was raised by several people.
Overall, people speaking in opposition were adamant about the potential detrimental effects of the rezoning on their standard of living.
The issue of odour pollution from the Burnco property and the possibility of an increase in industrial odours was raised.
Safety due to increased traffic and lack of sidewalks was another major concern.
The other item up for public comment was bylaw 815, the Thompson bylaw, at 10660 Highway 97.
This bylaw is for a proposed plan for the property, currently zoned RR1, to be rezoned to a mixture of low density multi-family residential (RM2) and neighbourhood commercial (C2).
The location is in the Pretty Road area and several nearby homeowners and an area business person stepped forward to give their views.
There was no objection from the owners of the land where the Husky gas station is located, provided the Pretty Road extension is completed first.
Several nearby neighbours residing on Eva Road were concerned about increased future traffic noise.
Future sewer upgrades were also mentioned as a concern for the area.
Lake Country council will schedule a third reading on both bylaws for a future council meeting.