Wednesday, May 29, 2024
May 29, 2024

Brinkworthy Road acreage bought for potential housing, farming activities

A Salt Spring organization with a history in affordable housing has purchased a centrally located piece of land — one not currently permitted for that type of project, but with “great potential,” according to organizers. 

Island Community Services (ICS), formerly known as Salt Spring Island Community Services, announced April 12 that it had completed purchase of 131 Brinkworthy Road, a 10.85-acre parcel fronting both Brinkworthy and Lower Ganges roads. Currently, the property holds a two-bedroom manufactured home and a 300-square-foot studio, along with a barn and shed; but ICS executive director Rob Grant said the land’s possibilities were too great to let pass by. 

“This was an opportunity to acquire a perfectly located parcel of land with great potential,” said Grant. “The intention is not to do anything quickly, but to take our time in consultation, planning and evaluation of all of the current options and priorities.” 

Those options currently are limited; the parcel is zoned for residential use under Salt Spring’s land use bylaw. It is also designated as Agricultural Land Reserve (ALR) property, a provincial land use zone where agriculture is the priority use and non-agricultural uses are restricted. But Grant said the land’s current home — and hay fields — could be a jumping-off point for a larger use for island residents.

“We recognize the potential to increase both the housing and agricultural use of the property to the benefit of the community,” said Grant, pointing to ICS’s “strong history” in housing with projects such as the 24-unit Salt Spring Commons, which opened in 2021, and the 27-unit Murakami Gardens complex, which opened in 2008. Grant also noted ICS had been involved with growing and distributing food on Salt Spring, through the development of Harvest Farm and Food Programs. 

“There are exciting possibilities [at this property] in combining affordable housing and food production,” he said. 

Just a handful of property owners have successfully applied to the Agricultural Land Commission for non-farm use of ALR parcels on Salt Spring, according to provincial records, with around one approval per year since 2017 — although the uses tended to be relatively minor structures, such as the open-sided cover at the golf course driving range in 2020, or tightly connected to farm use, such as an expanded use of Ruckle Farm worker accommodations in 2019. 

ICS is beginning a planning process that will include community consultation, according to Grant, as well as an exploration of ALR options. 

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  1. Bad Idea……
    Do not start finding excuses to take existing or potential farmland out of ALR……
    Good topsoil should be protected like ‘gold’………once you start removing ALR land it will be easier next time.
    When will we learn?…..
    There must be other non-farmland areas for this project….Bad Idea.


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