Agricultural Area Plan - Area C
To download a full copy of the latest plan in Acrobat PDF format, click the link below:
Agricultural Area Plan (June 2008)
EXECUTIVE SUMMARY Rural Oliver and the Town of Oliver pursue economic prosperity through the enhancement and promotion of its agricultural assets. This vision is grounded in the reality that the area has distinct rural and agricultural amenities that are capable of attracting, nurturing and supporting desired agri-tourism enterprise.
Rural Oliver is legally described as Electoral Area C of the Regional District Okanagan-Similkameen. Through a series of public strategy meetings, Rural Oliver and Town of Oliver residents have jointly determined that preserving and enhancing the agricultural economy and quality of lifestyle is the highest priority. Agriculture and agricultural products have been identified as the leading economic strength for both communities. Rural Oliver’s character and viewscapes, shaped through agricultural activities and the preservation of our ecologically sensitive areas, provide residents and visitors with a rich and unique environment and a highly prized lifestyle. This being said, increased interest from developers and the influx of people desiring to live in a rural setting combine to threaten the future of Rural Oliver’s agricultural lands. This document articulates clearly defined policies which will serve to protect, enhance and expand Rural Oliver’s agricultural lands, and thus the economy and quality of life of residents in both Rural Oliver and the Town of Oliver.
Oliver recognizes the pressures that all communities of the Okanagan Valley are under, from demand for land from the Agricultural Land Reserve in order to provide more housing, to commercial growth and institutional space for the thousands of people who are relocating to this region. Yet, the preservation of farming as the economic mainstay of the economy of rural Oliver will be the measure of the success of this Agricultural Area Plan. Commitment to this process is revealed in the many stages of development of the current plan as represented in the summary chart at the end of this section.
FORMAT & CONTENT
The Smart Growth on the Ground project and the RDOS Regional Growth Strategy hold the promise of very meaningful contribution to Rural Oliver and the Town of Oliver. The Agricultural Area Plan will be used to direct the Rural Area portion of the Ag Resort Area Concept, the local Official Community Plan, and Zoning Bylaw changes.
All of these variables and the need for the additional public consultation demanded that we describe this as "an evolutionary plan". It will be a "living document" to be modified over time to fulfill the needs of community today and still incorporate new components as developed in the near future.
Many of the objectives of this plan call for the publicizing and delivery of data as a means of education to the benefit of both farm and town dwellers. Furthermore, one of the significant goals to come out of this plan was the concept of fostering low or no cost high speed access to the Internet via what is termed the "Wireless Valley Project".
All the factors above led to the determination that we would employ the Internet to deliver our plan, collect and disseminate feed back on the plan and its components, enhance communication and to help us reach many of our educational goals. The Oliver & District Community Economic Development Society (ODCEDS) will make available CD's for those who lack Internet access and for the computer-challenged, printed documents without the depth of the Internet version.
The Agricultural Area Plan is broken into sections of modest size that are readily downloadable using dial-up Internet access. In the Action Grid, agricultural issues are presented in overview fashion that identifies the Situation, Goal and the Recommended Action. As background, a statistical profile of Oliver area agriculture is included.
Action Grid Web Links
Hyperlinks have been provided to a number of web sites that reference in more detail issues and options discussed in the Action Grid. These web links are provided for information only and may not reflect the views and consensus achieved by the Rural Oliver agricultural community during the planning process. The direction adopted in the Oliver and District Agricultural Plan is the result of comprehensive and extensive deliberations of the Area C Agricultural Committee.
KEY STRATEGIES FOR ENHANCING AGRICULTURE
Since 2004, Area C has been developing its Agricultural Area Plan to determine a direction for agriculture. The concept encompasses the natural advantage that the Oliver Area possesses in terms of a wide and diverse variety of agricultural products combined with a rapidly increasing reputation as a tourist destination. Inside this adventure, the agricultural community is at once integral to the plan’s prosperity but equally susceptible to dangers associated with its success.
The AAP planning process has involved extensive stakeholder consultation over a period of 4 years, in which issues, concerns, options and strategies have been articulated. The following recommended strategies are considered vital to ensure the long term sustainability of agriculture in the region.
- Agricultural Land Use - Perhaps the most important recommendation in this AAP, agricultural land use is concerned with the protection and preservation of the agricultural land base. Indeed, the consensus in the agricultural community is that it needs to adopt a “zero-tolerance” policy toward land loss in the Agricultural Land Reserve (ALR). Moreover, Crown land with farming capability should be identified and added to the regions agricultural land base.
- Agricultural Water Supply, Quality and Access - The second key recommendation is in respect of water supply, quality and access. There is an overpowering rationale for attaching water rights to agricultural property title since the land is essentially non-productive without water for irrigation. In addition, there is great concern with the need to reserve water for agriculture in the future in the face of increasing competition for water from non-agricultural land uses and preparing for water shortages due to global climate change.
- Pursuing Economic Prosperity – The opportunity for industry growth from wine- and tourism-related economic generators is tempered by the potential for negative impact from rapid growth and increased population densities in the region. A strong collective will from Rural Oliver and the Town of Oliver is called for, to jointly map out the direction in which the valley should proceed and agree upon the experience they wish to market. The potential offered by the Internet in finding, servicing and exploiting economic opportunity should be maximized.
- Agro-Environmental Interface – Certainly part of the Oliver area experience is the quality of its natural environment. The farming community recognizes the need to improve the sustainability of its farming practices and sees the value of an enhanced natural ecosystem to the quality of life in region.
- Rural-Urban Interface – Given that rural-urban conflicts are inevitable, the AAP advocates a strong bias towards protecting farmers and farming practices in the ALR from encroachment, nuisance and unjustified harassment by means of instruments such as real estate disclosure and covenant. In return, farmers are adopting more sustainable farming practices and implementing environmental farm plans.
- Corridors and Rights-of-Way – There is concern that new corridors will continue to carve up contiguous farming areas making them less efficient operations. Oliver area farmers expect that these routes should be selected only with their input, impacts should be fully mitigated by proponents, and unavoidable damages should be compensated.
- Enhancing the Profile of Agriculture – The divide between the agricultural community and the non-agricultural community continues to expand in modern society. Yet the public is more concerned about health, food quality and food safety than ever before. There is considerable opportunity in the Oliver area to promote local produce to visitors and residents alike, based on these established consumer trends and accessing the economic growth engine associated with farm and ensuing value-added products such as wine along with tourism. As well as promoting local products, residents should be made aware of the importance to the regions economy and to the entire community of agricultural products that are sold to BC, Canadian and International markets. There is an identified need to re-install an agricultural curriculum to educate young people about agriculture. Also, Local, Provincial, Federal politicians and their respective staff need to learn the economic, social and quality of life values that come with a strong agricultural community.
- Regulation – Regulation may be considered the glue that holds good ideas together. Good regulation facilitates agricultural enterprise, bad regulation will hamper it. The Oliver area agricultural community is encouraged to proactively lay the groundwork that will set the rules and develop the vision for participating in the economic prosperity that is predicted to encompass the region.
"This project was funded in part by the Investment Agriculture Foundation of BC through Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada's Advancing Canadian Agriculture and Agri-Food (ACAAF) program."