Council takes a stand
It won't be business as usual for a long-established Kelowna nursery and landscaping company.
Neway Landscape and Irrigation Ltd. has been in business since 2003, leasing property at 3740 Casorso Road. However, for several years, it has been a non-conforming farm use.
The property in question is on ALR lands.
The company and its agents came to council Monday seeking approval to continue operating as usual while it slowly moved to make the operation fully conform.
The timeline was 2018.
"I've been in the nursery business for 20 years and I'd like to continue," the owner told council.
"My future, my staff's future could be at stake. I'm trying to see if we could get some support."
Council said no, partly because it is within the Benvoulin corridor, an area council says is full of non-conforming uses, and one which it has asked staff to clean up.
"Really, what we see before us today is an outcome of the direction we gave to staff," said Coun. Luke Stack in leading the charge against the application.
"I think Neway Landscaping is a good company, and I wish them every success in their landscaping construction and irrigation business, but I can't believe that is the right application to be used on this fine farmland."
Stack said the business is primarily a construction business, and should be operating from an industrial site.
"Today, I think, provides council with an opportunity to send a strong, united, firm but fair message, that we can't allow our quality farmland to be slowly converted to commercial, non-farm uses.
"The application on the table before us is for non-farm use. That's what we are being asked, not to help make this a better farm."
While most did struggle with the decision, they agreed not to recommend the application.
"This is a difficult one, and usually, I try to find any way possible to let farming opportunities to remain," said Coun. Charlie Hodge.
"But about 40 per cent of this property is set towards landscaping and irrigation, which isn't allowed. As much as I appreciate there has been a lot of communication with staff, I have to support Coun. Stack on the motion. I think for the sake of farmland, we have to take a stance to protect it."
Mayor Colin Basran commended the owner of the company and understood it was an emotional issue, but stated council has to do what's right for the agricultural community.
"I recognize you are trying to take some measures to bring it up to compliance by planting more nursery stock and make it more of a farm venture," said Basran.
"But this to me is clearly what we are trying to stop in our community."
The mayor urged the owner to continue to work with the city is hopes of eventually being able to bring the property into compliance.