To the Editor:
The community should be informed about some matters relating to the favorable ALC (Agriculture Land Commission) decision allowing Cawston Cold Storage (CCS) to use designated ALR land for non-farm use.
1. At an Advisory Planning Committee (APC) meeting Cawston Hall, June 27, 2011 as reported by The Keremeos Review, the CCS representative stated “We are asking for two acres for non-farm use”. The Agricultural Land Commission document approving this application, page two, states “2.5 to three acres of the front or northeast portion of the property would be utilized for the facility”. Unofficial estimates places this figure presently at 3.2 acres. Whatever the size of the land being used, it is certainly bigger than two acres which is the acreage requested at the APC meeting of June 27, 2011 upon which the committee members made their decision.
2. At the above mentioned APC meeting the RDOS regional director indicated to the committee that a covenant would be placed on the rest of the land. The assurance of a covenant to ensure that the rest of the property be maintained as Agriculture land was an important consideration when the decision by the APC directors was made to support the application.
Requests for details and a copy of this covenant have not been forthcoming from the ALC.
3. The ALC met with the directors of CCS on September 27, 2011 at the site and on October 25, 2011 a CCS representative met with the ALC. Subsequent to this, agricultural producers who are shareholders and /or suppliers to CCS were contacted, presumably for their opinions. The ALC referred to people who were opposed to the application in their decision document. However the ALC did not interview or consult with representatives opposed to the project before making their decision.
It seems that the ALC lacked proper due diligence and the decision making process could be construed as lacking impartiality.
4. The ALC has an appeal process under section 33 entitled Reconsideration of Decisions but events as they emerged short circuited any chance for this to occur.
The ALC decision was dated November 4, 2011.
CCS was informed very soon after this as work started on the site on November 11, 2011
The decision was posted on the ALC web site on November 16, 2011, after work had already commenced.
The first time people in the community knew the decision was made in favor of CCS was when they saw equipment on the site. Members of the Community who opposed the project were never contacted by ALC representatives.
This project has been marked by a lack of information and proper community consultation from its inception which is a sad reflection on the manner in which it has been conducted.
5. The Lower Similkameen Indian Band was not consulted regarding this project.
Jenny Edlington, Bob McAtamney and Therese Agasse, Cawston