KELOWNA - An agri-tourism operation on a small plot of farm land in East Kelowna got a rare endorsement from city council this week, despite plans to include weddings and a distillery.
Kristi and James Caldwell requested council support for their application to the Agriculatural Land Commision to allow a portion of their land to be used for non-farm use, a request city staff did not endorse.
After hearing a presentation from the couple, who live on Goodison Road, council opted for staff’s alternate recommendation, which was to support the application, subject to limitations through a restrictive covenant.
“I will admit, having you present to us made a big difference for me,” Mayor Colin Basran told the couple. “You have a great story to tell and it helped sway me.”
Council heard the couple took possession of the densely-treed and hilly property only a year and a half ago, after the death of Kristi’s parents. Since then, they have made an effort in a number of areas to increase the agricultural use of the property, raising chickens and growing vegetables, herbs and berries. Three cows are coming in the spring.
Their proposal includes the creation of a small heritage farm museum where plans are to display a significant collection of antique farm equipment.
Their plans to build a small craft distillery and create a place to hold wedding ceremonies is what prompted their request and subsequently, the request to council for its support. The non-farm uses would take up 0.04 of a hectare.
This year the land commission made a distillery an allowable use if at least 50 per cent of the ingredients used to make liquor are produced on the property. However, council heard the Caldwells won't be able to produce the necessary ingredients to meet the 50 per cent threshold for several years.
In the end, council voted to support the application, after most councillors spoke in favour of the application.
The restrictive covenant will mean weddings must take place on an existing lawn. Only ceremonies will be allowed, no receptions or food and beverage service, and all parking must be confined to existing paved and gravel driveways. No more than 100 people will be allowed at each ceremony, which can only be held Saturday afternoons from May to September.
As well, the exception for the non-farm uses ends with the sale of the property, something Mayor Colin Basran warned would wipe out any chance of selling the propery as a viable business. The Caldwells, in turn, told council their plan was to keep the property in the family for as long as possibe, perhaps passing it along to their children.
While the final decision rests with the Agricultural Land Commission, local government are invited to comment on these applications and indicate their support one way or another.
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