The air is beginning to clear in Gordon Head after the Alberg family removed 19 head of cattle from an urban feed lot on Thursday.
Siblings Don and Gordon Alberg and Florence Davis own the property at 1516 Mt. Douglas X Rd., which has been operating as a feed lot since Saanich council twice rejected plans to develop the property, first in March 2011 when the Alberg family proposed 16-lot subdivision, and then again in July 2012, when the family proposed a 12-lot subdivision plus community garden.
“We’ve had as many as 80 head over the past few years and processed over 120 head in the last two and a half years,” said Don Alberg, after loading the cattle in trucks bound for his Qualicum Beach farm. “We were looking for more cattle, but it was a leap of faith by us to remove them as Saanich council moves forward.”
The Albergs hope to advance a 16-lot residential development proposal at council, which they anticipate will receive first and second readings before the family removes the land from the Agricultural Land Reserve. The family will need to apply to the provincial body to have the land removed from the ALR at some point before the final development application and rezoning could be approved. Council could also reject the application altogether and require the land to remain as permanent farmland.
The Alberg property is still in the ALR but zoned residential, which means the Albergs have the right to continue to farm it.
“Our hope and the neighbour’s hope now is Saanich will move forward and support a 16-lot subdivision,” Don said.
Coun. Fred Haynes, who put forward a report that helped break the stalemate between the Albergs and council, called the removal of the cattle a “classy action” as both parties move forward.
“I believe they (Albergs) have joined the expression of community good will that has been enabled by the recent unanimous decision by council to enable the unique review of the development application ahead of the status within the ALR,” Haynes said. “This land is in a use conflict being both (residentially zoned), which prohibits farming, as well as ALR, which protects the right to farm.”
Council will consider the Alberg’s development application at a June 22 committee of the whole meeting.
The family is also holding an open house for residents about its development plans on Sunday (June 7) from 4 to 7 p.m. at 1516 Mt. Douglas X Rd.
More to come.