Update: The District of Sicamous has provided additional information regarding the property purchase, clarifying its proposed use in relation to properties the district will be seeking approval to use for a proposed municipal campground.
The District of Sicamous may not be getting into farming but it has put in an offer on a berry farm.
On Thursday, Sept. 13, the district announced in a news release that a conditional purchase offer has been accepted on the acquisition of 23 acres of farmland and riverfront property located at 231 Old Town Rd. in Sicamous.
The property was operated as a berry farm by the Abbott family since the 1940s.
“Council has been diligently working on increasing tourism accommodations with the municipal campground initiative since 2015 and this acquisition provides the critical access to both agricultural opportunities and recreational camping facilities,” said Mayor Terry Rysz.
He said council determined this was an opportune time to meet both objectives by purchasing the parcel and incorporating the economic development potential of a campground, while protecting 23 acres of farmland and riverfront access for the public to enjoy.
District of Sicamous town manager Evan Parliament explained the conditional purchase, if completed, would provide access to neighbouring properties (private and public) currently in the Agricultural Land Reserve. The district will be asking the Agricultural Land Commission to exclude those neighbouring properties from the ALR to use for a municipal campground. The former Abbott property would remain agricultural land, to be developed as an urban farm.
“This purchase will position council to finally submit an application to the Agricultural Land Commission (ALC) outlining our vision to build tourism accommodation facilities alongside securing food production by developing and operating an urban farm for Sicamous and the Area E region,” Rysz said.
The conditional purchase offer of $560,000 hinges on ALC approval of the municipal campground application as well as public consultation regarding the property acquisition and funding via the District of Sicamous Financial Plan Bylaw No. 947.
The ALC will likely decide on the municipal campground application in December 2018. A press conference is scheduled for noon, Wednesday, Sept. 19 at the municipal hall in council chambers for anyone to ask questions and learn more about this strategic acquisition.
In July 2016, the District of Sicamous honoured the Abbott family with a plaque marking Abbott Trail, the walking path at the end of Old Town Road leading into Old Town Bay. Members of the Abbott family were in attendance, including former Shuswap MLA George Abbott. Along with the plaque’s unveiling, it was announced the Abbott family had dedicated a portion of land along Old Town Road to the district for park land.