Farm­land is for farm­ing, says Kelowna city coun­cil

Ap­pli­ca­tions for re­cy­cling fa­cil­ity, RV and boat stor­age on 2 parcels of farm­land re­jected

The Daily Courier - - OKANAGAN - By RON SEY­MOUR

An agri­cul­tural prop­erty de­scribed as an in­dus­trial dump­ing site won’t be le­gal­ized by the City of Kelowna.

Coun­cil­lors voted Mon­day against al­low­ing a non-farm use to be made of the prop­erty at 1040 Old Ver­non Rd., owned by an Ed­mon­ton-based de­mo­li­tion firm.

De­bris in­clud­ing ap­pli­ances, con­struc­tion ma­te­ri­als, ve­hi­cles, heavy equip­ment and even an­i­mal car­casses has been dumped on the site over the years, coun­cil­lors heard, even though there is no busi­ness li­cence as­so­ci­ated with the prop­erty.

“The ap­pli­cant has shown a strong his­tory of non-com­pli­ance (and dis­re­gard) for the en­vi­ron­ment, the neigh­bours and the law,” Coun. Tracy Gray said.

“It’s ba­si­cally op­er­at­ing as a land­fill,” said Coun. Gail Given.

McCol­man De­mo­li­tion Ser­vices bought the prop­erty, for­merly the site of a sawmill, in 2007. The in­ap­pro­pri­ate land uses have prompted var­i­ous city in­ves­ti­ga­tions, re­sult­ing in fines and court pro­ceed­ings.

In ask­ing for coun­cil to endorse a non-farm use of the prop­erty, the de­mo­li­tion com­pany said a con­crete and met­als re­cy­cling fa­cil­ity would gen­er­ate in­come to pay for the site’s even­tual re­turn to agri­cul­tural use.

“(McCol­man) wants to get this all cleaned up to the point where it’s sus­tain­able and us­able for agri­cul­ture,” the com­pany’s lawyer told coun­cil. “‘He’s not a farmer. He’s not go­ing to want to farm this thing. He’ll get rid of it.”

But coun­cil­lors doubted an in­dus­trial re­cy­cling fa­cil­ity, if ap­proved, would prove to be a tem­po­rary ven­ture.

“I think what’s hap­pened here is the trust fac­tor is miss­ing,” Coun. Mo­hini Singh said.

Coun­cil also voted against a tem­po­rary non-farm use per­mit for the ad­ja­cent prop­erty, at 982 Old Ver­non Rd. It is also part of the for­mer Russo sawmill site, the en­tire re­mains of which have been de­scribed as one of Kelowna’s worst eye­sores.

The own­ers of that prop­erty, the Kan­dola fam­ily, asked for the per­mit so they could store boats and RVs, again with a view to mak­ing money they could put to­ward the con­tin­ued agri­cul­tural recla­ma­tion of their land.

The Kan­dolas’ ap­pli­ca­tion had the sup­port of city staff, who said the fam­ily had spent a lot of money al­ready in try­ing to clean up the prop­erty. Un­like the de­mo­li­tion com­pany, city staff said, the Kan­dolas have been steadily re­mov­ing de­bris from their site, not adding to it.

Nev­er­the­less, coun­cil voted 5-3 against the tem­po­rary use per­mit.

The ma­jor­ity noted coun­cil has been clear re­cently about not al­low­ing non-farm­ing uses to take place on agri­cul­tural land.

Mayor Colin Bas­ran said that, “for con­sis­tency,” he would re­luc­tantly vote against the Kan­dolas’ non-farm per­mit re­quest.

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