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Delta not keen on plan to subdivide farmland

Brothers want to split 75-acre parcel on Trunk Road

An application to subdivide a farm on Ladner Trunk Road has been shot down by Delta council.

Brothers Avtar Singh Gosal and Surjit Singh Gosal want their 30.33hectare (75-acre) parcel at 9096 Ladner Trunk Rd., which is zoned agricultural and within the Agricultural Land Reserve, spilt down the middle.

One side of the property is currently farmed for blueberries while the other is used to grow vegetables. The brothers want to separate the property in order to allow each "to have full control over his respective parcel, to borrow against and invest in his operation and ensure his investment in his parcel results in a benefit to that owner without encumbering the other portion of the lands and creating risk to the other owner without a corresponding benefit.

Having the farm separated into two parcels would also allow the owners more certainty in estate and tax planning, they said.

The brothers also noted Delta's Official Community Plan, while discouraging parcel sizes be spilt to avoid fragmentation, also encourages initiatives that reinforce farm use of agricultural land and to diversify farm operations to support agricultural viability and sustainability.

However, Delta staff's recommendation was to reject the application, which was unanimously endorsed by civic politicians.

Council was told the application isn't consistent with the OCP and that subdivision in itself is not considered to be an economic diversification initiative.

Subdivision is also not seen as an economic development initiative in Delta's new agricultural plan.

"Rather, it would limit the economic potential of the land, lead to further land speculation and undermine its agricultural viability and sustainability in the long term," stated a report to council.

The report notes a subdivision would also permit 5,000-square-foot houses to be constructed on each lot, which would further reduce the agricultural potential of the land.

Community planning director Tom Leathem said the Agricultural Land Commission would also have to approve the application. Based on past experience, he said it's highly unlikely the ALC would approve it if the applicants want to go directly to the ALC with the proposal.

Noting it's been a while since they received such an application, Mayor Lois Jackson said council has long been firm in its opposition to allowing farmland to be split into small parcels.

sgyarmati@delta-optimist.com