2040 Official Community Plan

Rural Lands

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Last Updated: 
July 11, 2023
2040 OCP - Chapter 8 - Rural Lands chapter header, image of apple orchard in Kelowna

While Kelowna is home to the largest population in the Interior Region, over 55% of the land base is dedicated to agriculture and rural uses. Agriculture is one of the defining features of the City and drives a significant amount of economic activity and tourism. Produce from the Kelowna region has developed a national and international reputation as has the wine industry which is continuing to grow.

In part because of this success and the draw of the community as a whole, managing growth and change on Rural Lands and on abutting urban lands is a constant challenge. The pressure to find new land for a growing city can undermine otherwise viable agricultural lands over time. Meanwhile, demands from land owners for increased commercial, industrial and residential uses on rural and agricultural lands can pose an equal threat to the long-term survival of this sector.

Nevertheless, protecting and preserving rural and agricultural lands has never been more important, and not only for their economic and aesthetic value. As climate change becomes a local reality and food security grows in importance, agricultural lands will play a growing role.

Land Use and Urban Design

2040 OCP - Rural Lands pillars related to Land Use and Urban Design

The land use approach in Rural Lands aims to preserve them for agricultural and rural purposes and focusing urban growth to districts that are inside the Permanent Growth Boundary over the life of this plan. However, it is not enough to limit urban development in Rural Lands. The OCP also supports  agricultural producers, ensuring the sector continues to be attractive and economically viable.

Putting this vision into action will require working with the agricultural community, the Agricultural Land Commission (ALC) and other senior government organizations as the plan is implemented over the next 20 years.

Objective 8.1. Protect and preserve agricultural land and its capability.

Policy 8.1.1. Protect Agricultural Land.
Retain the agricultural land base by supporting the ALR and by protecting agricultural lands from development. Ensure that the primary use of agricultural land is agriculture, regardless of parcel size.

Policy 8.1.2. Agricultural Land Designation.
Protect and support the continued designation and use of agricultural land for agricultural purposes regardless of soil types and capabilities. Locate agricultural structures to maximize the agricultural potential of prime soil resources.

Policy 8.1.3. ALR Exclusions.
ALR exclusion applications to the ALC will not be considered except where such exclusions are consistent with the generalized Future Land Use Map 3.1. and ALC guidance and conditions. ALR exclusion applications may be considered as part of a scheduled, comprehensive OCP Bylaw Review or Agriculture Plan Update based on the following factors:

  • Consistency with the goals, objectives, and other policies in the 2040 OCP;
  • Does not require the extension of municipal services; and/or
  • Demonstrates a civic need that cannot be provided elsewhere.

Other considerations include the size of the parcel, the percentage of the parcel within the ALR and agricultural capability. Soil capability alone should not be used as justification for exclusion.

Policy 8.1.4. Urban Uses.
Direct urban uses to lands within the Permanent Growth Boundary, to minimize development and speculative pressure on agricultural lands.

Policy 8.1.5. Agri-tourism, Alcohol Production Facilities, Farm Retail Sales.
Support agri-tourism uses that are directly associated with and supportive of established farm operations as a primary use. Permit alcohol production facilities and farm retail sales on ALR lands where consistent with ALC policies and regulations.

Policy 8.1.6. Non-farm Uses.
Restrict non-farm uses that do not directly benefit agriculture except where such non-farm uses are otherwise consistent with the goals, objectives and other policies of this OCP. Support non-farm use applications only where approved by the ALC and where the proposed uses:

  • Are consistent with the Zoning Bylaw and the 2040 OCP;
  • Provide significant benefits to local agriculture;
  • Do not require the extension of municipal services;
  • Will not utilize productive agricultural lands;
  • Will not preclude future use of the lands for agriculture; and
  • Will not harm adjacent farm operations.

Policy 8.1.7. Subdivision of Agricultural Land.
Maximize the potential for agricultural land to be used for agriculture by not allowing it to be subdivided into smaller parcels, except where significant positive benefits to agriculture can be demonstrated or in the case of homesite severances approved by the ALC.

Policy 8.1.8. Secondary Suites.
Secondary suites on ALR lands must be located within a permitted principal dwelling.

Policy 8.1.9. Farm Help Housing.
As a first option, encourage farm help housing to be located within the Permanent Growth Boundary, providing access to amenities for workers. As a second option, accommodation for farm help on agricultural land on the same farm unit, where approved by the ALC, will be considered only when:

  • Agriculture is the principal use on the parcel; and
  • The applicant demonstrates that on-site housing for farm workers is necessary for the overall operation of the farm. The primary consideration is whether the scale of the farm operation is large enough that permanent help is deemed necessary.

Temporary farm working housing, such as bunkhouse accommodation on non-permanent foundations, is the preferred solution where  farm worker housing is justified.

Policy 8.1.10. Homeplating.
Locate buildings and structures, including farm help housing and farm retail sales areas and structures, on agricultural parcels in close proximity to one another and where appropriate, near the existing road frontage.

Policy 8.1.11. Conservation Tools.
Promote the use of conservation programs or covenants on agricultural land, where approved by the ALC, to protect environmentally sensitive areas. Conservation covenants will:

  • Balance agricultural and environmental priorities and recognize the complex relationships between some agricultural uses and areas of environmental interest;
  • Protect environmentally sensitive areas identified through current statutory provisions (e.g. Species at Risk) and identified through current federal, provincial and local inventory programs; and
  • Focus on environmentally sensitive areas and should not unduly restrict agriculture elsewhere on the property.

Policy 8.1.12. Large Scale Alternative Energy on Agricultural Land. 
Prohibit the use of solar farms (photovoltaics) or other large scale alternative energy solutions, developed for the sale of power to third parties, on properties in the ALR.

Objective 8.2. Ensure a compatible urban-rural interface that protects agricultural uses.

Policy 8.2.1. Agricultural Land Protection.
Retain the agricultural land base for the long-term by supporting the ALR and by protecting agricultural lands from the impacts of adjacent development and redevelopment. 

Policy 8.2.2. Urban-Rural Interface Uses.
Where a property is adjacent to agricultural lands, encourage land uses that are compatible with adjacent agricultural uses, such as urban agriculture and passive recreational uses. Encourage urban uses that accommodate vulnerable populations (e.g. seniors, children, people with health challenges) to parcels that are not adjacent to agriculture to limit interface incompatibilities.

Policy 8.2.3. Urban-Rural Buffers.
Where a property is adjacent to land in the ALR , ensure that development limits associated negative impacts on adjacent agricultural operations by including appropriate buffers, setbacks and site planning, consistent with the Farm Protection Development Permit Guidelines outlined in Chapter 22: Farm Protection Development Permit Area.

Objective 8.3. Encourage initiatives in Rural Lands that supplement the local food system to increase food security and social connections.

Policy 8.3.1. Urban Agriculture.
Encourage urban agriculture, that uses integrated pest management practices, as a way of supplementing the local food system and reducing greenhouse gas emissions associated with food production, processing, and transportation. In Rural Lands, support and encourage urban agriculture using approaches that include, but are not limited to:

  • Food production on public and private land including rooftops, beehives, and edible landscaping on residential boulevards, park land, backyards, and rights-of-way; and
  • Private and non-profit sector universally-accessible community gardens, considering the use of City-owned land for use of community gardens where appropriate.

Policy 8.3.2. Land Linking.
Collaborate with others to increase farming opportunities on City-owned properties.

Policy 8.3.3. Indigenous Forest Gardens.
Partner with syilx/Okanagan communities to develop, forest gardens that focus on the cultivation of native and culturally important species of plants for food and medicine.

Objective 8.4. Stop urban sprawl into Rural Lands.

Policy 8.4.1. Intensification of Rural Lands.
Do not support urban uses on lands outside the Permanent Growth Boundary except for as permitted by the 2040 OCP Future Land Use Designations in place as of initial adoption of the 2040 OCP Bylaw.

Policy 8.4.2. Discourage Subdivision.
Discourage further subdivision of properties outside the Permanent Growth Boundary.

Policy 8.4.3. Housing in Agricultural Areas.
Discourage additional residential development (both expansions and new developments) in areas surrounded by ALR and non-ALR agricultural lands. Secondary suites may be permitted in a permitted primary dwelling. Carriage houses may be considered on Rural Residential lands where the property is 1.0 hectares or greater and where proposal is consistent with the Farm Protection Guidelines outlined in Chapter 22: Farm Protection Development Permit Area.

Policy 8.4.4. Consideration of Serviced Areas.
Complete a comprehensive neighbourhood planning process before considering additional development potential in residential neighbourhoods in Rural Lands that are being considered for urban utility servicing due to public health issues or for the protection of natural assets (e.g. Hall Road).

Policy 8.4.5. Public Uses on Agricultural Lands.
Discourage the use of agricultural lands for public or institutional uses such as schools, parks and churches except as identified in the 2040 OCP.

Policy 8.4.6. Child Care Spaces.
Consider the development of small-scale child care spaces including accessible, affordable and inclusive spaces that meet the needs of citizens living in Rural Lands. Larger scale child care facilities may be considered in conjunction with existing institutional facilities.

Policy 8.4.7. Rental Conversion.
Prohibit the conversion of existing residential rental buildings with greater than four units to condominium status when rental vacancy falls below five per cent in Kelowna, unless the conversion is for the purpose of creating affordable rental housing with a Section 219 covenant registered on each strata title.

Objective 8.5. Ensure the long-term viable use of the Glenmore Landfill.

Policy 8.5.1. Glenmore Landfill Nuisance Impacts.
Do not support additional urban uses and intensification in the landfill impact buffer area, as illustrated in Map 13.8.

Policy 8.5.2. Landfill Operations and ALR.
If required, support the exclusion of ALR lands at the Glenmore Landfill only at the time of landfill operations expansion.


2040 OCP - Rural Lands pillars related to Transportation

In Rural Lands, transportation options will continue to be oriented around the automobile due to the long distances between these rural communities and major employment areas and the most basic services and amenities. As such, the City will not be prioritizing infrastructure investments in the Rural District as most sustainable transportation options are not cost-effective based on the low population density and distance to key destinations.

Instead, the 2040 OCP focuses on the importance of maintenance to support agricultural activity and enhance roadway safety. Also, the City will continue to increase active transportation connections in the Rural District through enhancements to the Mission Creek Greenway and Okanagan Rail Trail. 

The City will work closely with the agricultural community and the Agricultural Land Commission (ALC) to implement this approach. 

Objective 8.6. Minimize impacts of transportation infrastructure on agricultural and Rural lands.

Policy 8.6.1. Okanagan Rail Trail Connections.
Prioritize the development of walking and biking routes that provide safe, convenient and accessible access to the Okanagan Rail Trail and Mission Creek Greenway.

Policy 8.6.2. Service Corridors.
Minimize the impact of road and utility corridors through agricultural lands, using only those lands necessary and to the maximum capacity prior to seeking new corridors. Ensure provisions are made for farm traffic to cross major roads. 

Policy 8.6.3. Road Capacity Increases.
Prioritize the removal of on street parking over land acquisition when exploring road capacity increases, with due consideration of the road’s character and function.

Policy 8.6.4. Trucking Routes.
Recognize major trucking routes identified on Map 13.4 that support larger processing and production uses in agricultural areas.  


Artistic and cultural expression within Rural Lands contributes to the vitality and diversity of these areas, while strengthening the identity of Kelowna’s rural and agricultural community. As such, while prioritized in Urban Centres, public art should be supported in strategic locations in this district as opportunities arise.

Objective 8.7. Support artistic and cultural expression in Rural Lands.

Policy 8.7.1. Public Art Promotion.
Support public art installations at sites of historical significance, highly visible sites and/or are areas with high foot traffic. Seek opportunities to partner and collaborate with Westbank First Nation and Okanagan Indian Band on public art and placemaking initiatives that acknowledge and celebrate their traditional territory and cultural values.