A decision by the Agricultural Land Commission (ALC) will likely mean the end of the City of Salmon Arm’s plans to purchase the South Canoe school property.
The property was discussed as a possible site for relocating the city’s public works yard from its current location adjacent to the the Little Mountain Sports Complex on 30th Street SE.
The ALC chose to deny an application for non-farm use of the property located on the corner of 10 Ave. SE and 60 St. SE. Approval of non-farm use was a condition of the city’s purchase of the property from School District #83.
In a letter dated Nov. 18, the ALC informed the city the application for non-farm use had been denied.
Salmon Arm city council made their final decision to follow through with the plan to purchase the property at their Nov. 14 council meeting, conditional on non-farm use being approved. With this decision, it is now unlikely the city will proceed with the purchase.
The agenda for a special council meeting called for Nov. 29 contains a recommendation from city staff which reads:
“Staff do not recommend proceeding with the purchase of the South Canoe school property. Denial of this application by the ALC means that the city could only use the property for those uses allowed within the Agricultural Land Reserve. The city is not in the business of farming and borrowing capacity could be better used for other purposes.”
Residents of the South Canoe area came out in force to protest the sale of the property. Their concerns were mainly about the increased noise and traffic which would result from a public works yard in the area.
Lisa Nobbs, one of the organizers of the resistance to the public works yard project, says she is pleased with the ALC’s decision.
“They could definitely see that South Canoe is a mainly agricultural area and a public works yard doesn’t fit within the theme of that neighbourhood. The only councillor who could see that is Tim Lavery. We are totally in agreement of that and are happy the Agricultural Land Commission made this decision,” she said.
Nobbs said several South Canoe residents wrote letters directly to the ALC opposing a public works yard in the area.
“We’re hoping there will be a buyer for the South Canoe site if the city isn’t going to be proceeding with their purchase that will be using it for some purpose as agricultural land or as a school site like how it’s been used for 60 years,” she said.
School district officials could not be reached for comment at this time.