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qRD to consider support for subdividing ALR property

Subdivision application related to for winery and distillery relocation recommended by committee of the whole
TWO LOTS: qathet Regional District Electoral Area B director Mark Gisborne outlined an application to subdivide agricultural land reserve property for a new winery and distillery operation in Electoral Area C that is divided by Highway 101.

qathet Regional District’s (qRD) board will consider support for a two-lot subdivision of agricultural land reserve (ALR) property on Highway 101 to be used as a winery and distillery.

At the November 22 committee of the whole meeting, directors considered supporting a two-lot subdivision at 14436 and 14485 Highway 101, for a parcel that is bisected by the highway. The northern portion would be two hectares in size and the southern portion would measure 15.39 hectares, for a total of 17.39 hectares.

According to a staff report, the property owners intend to relocate a winery and distillery business from the Fraser Valley, with anticipated fruit planting to commence in spring 2024. Electoral Area D director and committee chair Sandy McCormick asked if the application was time sensitive, because it hadn’t gone to the planning committee.

qRD manager of planning services Laura Roddan said the terms of reference for the agricultural advisory committee, which has already heard about the application, states that it reports to the committee of the whole.

“Anything related to agricultural applications comes to committee of the whole,” said Roddan.

Electoral Area B director Mark Gisborne said he is the board representative on the agricultural advisory committee and wanted to update committee of the whole on the discussion.

“I know divisions of agricultural land reserve lands can be very contentious,” said Gisborne. “With this item, they are asking for a piece of ALR dissected by Highway 101 to be two parcels. The new owners who are trying to get involved in the farm operation are finding that having the highway affecting their property isn’t conducive to agricultural operations. Their plan is just to focus on the lower side property and that’s why they came to the agricultural advisory committee. There were not any dissenting opinions.

“I’m happy to support a subdivision of ALR land because there is a provincial highway that goes right through it.”

City of Powell River director Cindy Elliott asked if there was intention to sell off the smaller piece of property. Gisborne replied that the subdivision would allow another purchaser to turn it into a farm operation.

Elliott said she would be okay with committee of the whole sending the matter to the planning committee prior to a decision by the regional board. She said having heard the matter was uncontentious and supported by the agricultural advisory committee made her okay with either direction.

Elliott then asked if the two-hectare property was of a size that would make for a decent business plan for an agricultural standalone operation.

qRD planner Julia Dykstra said conditions in the northern section are quite constrained. She said some of the land is quite steep and impacted by a BC Hydro powerline right-of-way. She added that the proponent has stated a small market garden could be developed on the southern portion that is not affected by the BC Hydro right of way.

The committee voted to recommend the regional board support the two-lot subdivision application in the ALR, with Elliott opposed.

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