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News Release - ALR Decision for Southeast Meadowlark
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The Town of Osoyoos has succeeded in having a large area on its west side released from B.C.’s Agricultural Land Reserve, paving the way for key local priorities like more medium-density and affordable housing, and construction of a new Fire Hall.
The Town announced today that the Agricultural Land Commission has approved its application to have the 40-acre area known as Southeast Meadowlark released from the ALR. The area is bounded by 74th Avenue, Highway 97, 62nd Avenue and Meadowlark Drive.
Mayor Stu Wells says release of the land provides an excellent solution to the housing and Fire Hall issues, and importantly it also allows the area’s landowners to propose developments on their property only when they are ready to.
“I’m excited this whole process will be driven by need rather than by speculation,” the mayor says.
Osoyoos Planning and Development Director Alain Cunningham says the area is already transitioning away from agriculture and contains some single- family homes a small commercial area, the Baptist church, and some vacant lands.
The Town has an Area Plan for Southeast Meadowlark setting out an orderly transition from rural to urban uses over the next 10 years, the need to meet demands for medium-density housing at a minimum of 30 units per hectare, requirements for 15 per cent consisting of affordable housing, buffering next to property staying in the ALR, and promotion of urban design excellence. Public hearings were held on the Area Plan and the ALR exclusion application.
Cunningham says when Southeast Meadowlark is fully developed it could contain up to 270 medium-density dwelling, with 40 being affordable housing. The residential housing may include walk-up apartments, row housing, and narrow-frontage single-family and duplex homes. He says the newly available land means Osoyoos “will meet our medium-density housing needs for the next 10 years.”
The Agricultural Land Commission’s ruling will also allow the Town to build a much-needed new Fire Hall, on part of a Town-owned parcel of land on 74th Avenue near Highway 97, the former Richter property. The rest of that parcel will be offered for sale to a qualified residential developer, subject to an acceptable return for the Town, 15 per cent affordable housing, and appropriate urban design to fit in with the neighbourhood.
Until any property in Southeast Meadowlark is rezoned by Council and approved by the Commission for exclusion, it will remain in the ALR and zoned for Agriculture. It is completely up to the property owners if and when they wish to apply for rezoning. Any applications for rezoning or development must show how the property will be developed in accordance with the area plan, and must agree to include affordable housing.
The Commission’s ALR exclusion approval will follow a “staged process”. After Council approves any rezoning for properties in the area the Commission will only release the property from the ALR following their review of the consistency of the proposed development against key policies of the area plan.
The Town will retain specialized architectural services to advance the implementation of area plan policies, including preparation of an overall architectural concept, innovative and green housing formats, input to a housing symposium, and creation of new development permit guidelines and special zone to guide future development.
The Town is providing each property owner in the area with a copy of the Agricultural Land Commission’s decision.
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