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Proposed housing expansion in Paradise Valley a worry for qathet region business

Farmer expresses development concerns
REQUESTS PROTECTION: A Paradise Valley farmer has expressed concerns about a proposed residential development adjacent to his agricultural land, citing concerns about the quality of water and soil on the land he cultivates for his crops.

Paradise Valley farmer Dave Sherstad has requested protection from a proposed development on an adjacent property.

At the September 7 qathet Regional District (qRD) planning committee meeting, Sherstad, owner and operator of Paradise Valley Produce with his wife, provided a presentation regarding his concerns.

Sherstad said his business success relies on the quality of water and the soil.

“Without clean water to irrigate and process our crops, our business future is at risk,” said Sherstad. “Our farm is located on agricultural land reserve and we have undertaken measures to protect our water quality and quantity by registering our well under the Water Sustainability Act.

“Due to recent development activity at 3930 Padgett Road, which is located outside of the agricultural land reserve and designated as rural residential in the official community plan, we are concerned that water contamination from this development will threaten our safe domestic drinking water, our livelihood and our farm operation.”

Sherstad said it appears the proposed development will more than quadruple the density set out for rural residential property. He said that water contamination from 3930 Padgett Road would impact his home and farm.

“There is also a salmon-bearing stream down south of our property that would be impacted by contaminated groundwater,” said Sherstad. “Under the Water Sustainability Act, we have rights to protect our water, and under the Farm Practices Protection Act, to carry out our farm operations.”

Sherstad told directors he had a list of questions. The first was if there was a development permit application for 3930 Padgett Road. His second was whether there had been a hydrological study for the development at that location, and if not, why is it not required? His third question was regarding the development in question: had the issues of water and septic been properly addressed? His fourth question was how does the regional district protect his property from the new development directly upslope of his farm?

Planning committee chair and Electoral District C director Clay Brander said the purpose of the delegation was to present to the committee and is not a question and answer period.

“You can present these questions but we are not compelled to answer them,” said Brander. “This is for you to present information to us.”

Sherstad said he would like to advocate for the Electoral Area B official community plan to be adopted as a regulatory bylaw in regard to land use and protection for agricultural land.

Brander said he could understand Sherstad’s concerns.

“As it is right now, the regional district has very little say in anything that has to do with land use other than a few specific areas where zoning bylaws exist,” said Brander. “Your ask of the adoption of regulatory land use bylaws would affect an entire electoral area. It’s certainly not a small undertaking. It would require engagement with the public before any steps could occur.”

Brander said this year’s regional district budget does include money dedicated to engaging the public on this topic, with the purpose of gauging whether there is interest in the community for making such changes.

“Once the sessions are scheduled, which I imagine will be in the near future,” said Brander, “I’d encourage you and anyone who feels strongly about land use regulation, pro or against, or anyone else who wants to learn, to take the time to attend.”