September 26, 2013 - 2:24 PM
KAMLOOPS – Some local farmers are attempting to enhance the economics of their career by turning to agri-tourism and other social enterprise elements to help pay the bills, but not everyone plays by the rules.
Land ownership doesn't entitle a farmer to do anything they please with the land without checking it out first with the proper authorities. Complaints from neighbours spurred an investigation earlier this year at Sullindeo Estates and Thistle Farm on Dairy Road on the northern end of the city. Inspectors found buildings built without the proper permits and a variety of activities taking place without proper licenses.
Now the farmers who own the lands are before the city and province asking for permission to host non-farm activities on their agriculturally zoned properties. This includes going through a proper application process and sending documents to the provincial Agricultural Land Commission. If approved, the city can make any decisions about whether more activities or events can be hosted.
Sullindeo Estates is looking to offer up their property as rental space for catered events and for farm and garden workshops. Thistle Farm is looking for approval on seven different land uses, including farm tours, workshops, a permanent commercial kitchen and a storefront.
While council didn't raise concerns about the application from Sullindeo owners Leopold Lindinger and Patricia Sullivan there were concerns over the activities happening at Thistle Farms.
Council was told owners Dieter Dudy and Deborah Kellogg built several facilities without the proper permits, after following the proper permit process for a different structure. One of those structures, a dance floor attached to a gazebo, came after the complaint driven inspection earlier in the year. Staff were uneasy about several 'potential life safety issues' events taking place at the farm.
“Farm tours with children is farm use, likely,” Development Services Director Marvin Kwiatkowski said. “There is concern with some structures... we don't want to allow that use when there's concerns over life safety issues.”
Dudy and Kellogg were given permission to host four events this year, which were previously okayed by the city so long as the non-permitted structures were not used. The non-permitted structures include a commercial kitchen, a dwelling above the kitchen, the dance floor, gazebo and a storage facility.
The application process could take upwards of a year, council heard. The commission only meets twice per year and the fall agenda is fairly full already meaning the applications will likely be reviewed in spring. From there rezoning may be needed which means a public hearing would be required before any final decisions can be made. The city does not have the power to say yes if the commission says no to the application.
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News from © InfoTel News Ltd, 2013