ALC exemption denied for Pemberton farmland 

Decision may be reversed pending review of VOP infrastructure plans

The Provincial Agricultural Land Commission has denied an application to exempt 8.1 ha of Pemberton farmland. However, a letter to the applicants implies that the decision may be reversed.

Property owners Henry Menzel and Susan Perry had sought the exemption to allow for the development of 34 single-family homes and 34 townhouse units. The land is located across from the entrance to Eagle Drive, a.k.a. the Walnut Street connector, the new Benchlands development turnoff from Pemberton Meadows Road.

Despite the area having severe drainage problems the commission considered the property to have good agricultural capability ratings. The ALC stated that the limitation of the land could be overcome by the installation of improved drainage.

The letter, signed by Erik Karlsen, chair of the ALC, also notes that "the Village of Pemberton is in the process of infrastructure planning in this area in conjunction with developments outside the ALR. The results of these planning exercises may have impacts on the subject and other properties in the ALR…" The letter further suggests that after consideration of the VOP conceptual plans the application may be revisited as the commission will at that time be "balancing the impact of any proposed non-farm use (or exclusions) on the agricultural land base, with any proposed improvements made to benefit future agricultural land use."

VOP planner Michael Rosen said that the village had not taken a position on the proposed exception as it was in the hands of the ALC. However, the planner was not expecting the response the request received.

"I am surprised by the letter," said Rosen. "Especially since discussion around the proposed road had been very supportive."

Rosen said that the village would support the applicant’s desire to proceed with the rezoning of Silverthorn, a three-acre parcel that is adjacent to the 8.1 ha property but outside of the ALR.

"What happens with the other area is up to the applicants."

The owners of the land were not prepared to comment on their declined application or any future development plans.

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