May 12, 2022 | BX Open House

In 2021, The Institute for Sustainable Food Systems (ISFS) and the Land to Table Network of the North Okanagan (L2T) were contracted by the Regional District of the North Okanagan (RDNO) to prepare a 5 year development plan for the BX Ranchlands parcel at 4122 East Vernon Rd. The site is a valued community resource for agriculture, recreation, and conservation. In order to explore these interests further, ISFS and L2T worked with the RDNO and local stakeholders to draft a plan for the site that will maintain community access while supporting ecological well-being and encouraging agricultural opportunities for local farmers and growers. 

You can click button above for a detailed overview of the plan or you can download a summary of the plan below.

Where can I provide feedback?

Now that the proposed plan has been drafted, the broader community is invited to provide input. Once you have reviewed the plan you can click the button below to provide your feedback through a short 4 question survey.

Alternatively, you can join us for an Open House on May 12th, at 4122 East Vernon Road anytime between 3pm – 7pm. We will be offering tours of the site, sharing our drafted plan and collecting questions and feedback.

Anyone with a connection to the BX Ranchlands or an interest in its development is encouraged to fill out the survey or attend our open house. 

Once ISFS and L2T have collected the community’s  input, a revised plan will be provided to RDNO in Summer of 2022, after which RDNO will review and begin its approval process.

How did the project come to be?

In 2016, the RDNO purchased 167 acres of the BX Ranchlands. After creating a recreational trail along the perimeter of the property, RDNO considered subdividing and selling off the remaining land. However, in 2021, RDNO Electoral Areas B and C decided to keep the site in public hands by obtaining sole ownership after L2T, the BX Swan Lake Community Association, and many other concerned citizens and organizations championed for the land to be protected. The RDNO then enlisted the help of the ISFS and L2T to explore the agricultural, ecological and educational potential of the site and to create a plan for the development of these assets. 

Who is involved in the project? 

The project is managed by a steering committee made up of RDNO Directors for Electoral Areas B and C, Bob Fleming and Amanda Shatzko, and representatives from both L2T and ISFS.

The role of L2T and ISFS has been to steward the planning process and conduct community engagement. 

About L2T

L2T is an organization dedicated to working on strengthening food systems in the North Okanagan. They were brought into this project for their connection to the local agricultural community and for their intimate knowledge of the North Okanagan food system. Having consistently heard of the need for more spaces and support for emerging farmers they were eager to work with the RDNO and ISFS on this project. 

About ISFS

ISFS at Kwantlen Polytechnic University (KPU) is a leading institute for applied research and knowledge mobilization in sustainable, community-based farming and food systems development.  They are being increasingly recognized in BC and beyond for their work on advancing regenerative farming practices and building more sustainable communities through robust local-regional food systems. ISFS programming includes the development and maintenance of 2 successful farm schools in the lower mainland of BC, and they recently partnered with RDNO to complete a 3 year research project on the implications of a food system operating at the scale of the Okanagan Bioregion.  ISFS is also currently working with the BC Ministry of Agriculture on the development of a BC Extension Service for the organics sector in the province. They have drawn on this knowledge and experience to work with RDNO, L2T and  the North Okanagan community on a proposal for a 5 year development of agriculture research and education programs  on the BX Lands.

Working Group

The working group was jointly organized by the RDNO, L2T and ISFS. Composed of community stakeholders and local decision makers, the primary role of the working group was to advocate for community interests and establish planning priorities. The working group has provided feedback at every stage of the planning process. 

Since ISFS and L2T started the project in October, 2021 the following stakeholders have been represented through working group meetings and one-on-one consultations:

  • Farmers
  • School District 22 
  • Property residential neighbor
  • Current tenant on the land
  • BX Swan Lake Community Association
  • Ministry of Agriculture
  • Local Permaculturalist, compost expert, and community educator
  • Interior Health Authority
  • OKIB 
  • Okanagan Colledge
  • Local historian
  • RDNO Directors, representing Electoral Districts B & C

ISFS and L2T are now engaging the general public and those who live close to the BX Ranchlands through online surveys and an in-person open house style event. 

Who will be responsible for implementing the plan? 

Ultimately, RDNO will be responsible for launching and  implementing the plan, however, the BX Ranchlands would be managed through government collaboration with a local non-profit organization (either preexisting or created specifically to manage this project). Under this model the RDNO would manage the funding and finances of the site, but a partner organization would be tasked with coordinating site operations. 

This organization will work with the Department of Parks, Recreation and Culture at RDNO, to implement each of the development plan recommendations, organize infrastructure, maintenance, and site programming. In the early stages of site development, an RDNO staff member may carry out these tasks until they can be taken over by a partner organization. 

Site operations will also be overseen by an advisory board made up of local stakeholders. A board will lend stability and resiliency and ensure accountability to the community.

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