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B.C. groups propose designation of BX Ranch as an agricultural park

B.C. groups propose designation of BX Ranch as an agricultural park

The ranch sits on about 136 acres in Vernon, B.C.

By Diego Flammini
News Reporter
Farms.com

A group of concerned citizens from Vernon, B.C. want to keep a local, historic ranch designated as an agricultural park.

The BX Ranchlands Task Force and the BX/Swan Lake Community Association want to protect BX Ranch, which gets its name from Barnard’s Express, a rail transportation company which operated from 1861 to 1921.

The ranch occupies about 136 acres and local politicians are considering classifying only 36 acres as an agricultural park. The remaining 100 acres would be sold for redevelopment purposes.

But some residents, like Paul Williamson, a member of the BX Ranchlands Task Force, want all of the land to be kept for agricultural and community use.

“It’s a piece of land that’s directly bordering the city (of Vernon) so there’s many advantages to having it designated as a park,” he told Farms.com today. “And just around the corner from where I live there’s a farmer that’s leasing some of that land. He’s been in forage crops for more than 30 years.”

BX Ranch once consisted of over 6,000 acres and more than 2,000 horses called the ranch home, Williamson said.

The province also has precedence of designating land as agricultural parks.

“There’s six or seven agricultural parks in B.C. already,” Williamson said. “But the councillors seem to forget that.”

Saanich, Salt Spring Island, Pemberton, for example, all have agricultural parks. And a 37-acre sheep farm in Kelowna is being transferred to a land trust, according to the Vernon Morning Star.

Williamson and his colleagues presented their arguments to the Greater Vernon Advisory Committee yesterday. Which included a petition with more than 1,300 signatures and a presentation from Melanie Piorecky, an agrologist with the BC Institute of Agrologists.

Piorecky told the committee that an agricultural park would allow for post-secondary agrology research programs, a dedicated location for a farmers’ market and incubator farm plots. Which would all be consistent with food sustainability objectives in the region, the Vernon Morning Star reported.

The committee will address the agricultural park idea at its Jan. 4 meeting.

Top photo: Paul Williamson

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