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Agriculture Land Commission says no to restaurant, banquet hall at high-end South Okanagan winery

An agricultural land commission application to allow non-farm use for a restaurant and banquet facility at Phantom Creek Estates Winery, south of Oliver, has been denied.
An agricultural land commission application to allow non-farm use for a restaurant and banquet facility at Phantom Creek Estates Winery, south of Oliver, has been denied.
Image Credit: FACEBOOK / Phantom Creek Estates

A high-end South Okanagan winery and vineyard had its plans for a restaurant and banquet facility scuttled after the province's Agricultural Land Commission turned down a request for the non-farm uses on the property.

The application from Phantom Creek Estates Winery south of Oliver received approval from the regional district at the Feb. 7 regular board meeting to allow it to proceed with its expansion plans to the land commission.

However, the commission recently denied its application to establish a fine dining restaurant and a banquet facility encompassing a total of 7,328.4 m2 on the property, located at 4315 Black Sage Rd.

The restaurant and banquet facility is part of a $100 million investment in the winery, which is in the final phases of construction.

Plans for the facility also include a hospitality centre, indoor and outdoor licensed lounges, and a 500 seat amphitheatre.

The restaurant proposal would see it located on the third floor of a four-storey building containing wine production facilities, while the banquet facility — containing three banquet rooms, a VIP lounge room and three separate patio spaces — would be located as a stand-alone building next door.

The land commission found that even though the restaurant would be built above the production facility, limiting any impact on agricultural land, the addition of the restaurant would "extend beyond the intent of providing farmers with value-added services which are secondary to the farming operation.”

The panel also found the restaurant would have minimal connection to the agricultural land on the property.

A similar conclusion was found for the banquet facility proposal, where the commission concluded the size of the banquet hall would create a venue that would no longer be a secondary use to the farming operation.

The panel said a permanent stand-alone facility of the magnitude proposed would result in the farm operation becoming secondary to the banquet and restaurant operations.

"Given that the property plans to have two food and beverage service lounge spaces within the new alcohol production facility, the panel is not amenable to supporting an additional event space,” a commission report stated.

The panel also cited potential conflict with neighbouring operations over increased traffic and noise in denying the proposal in a unanimous decision on Oct. 17.

Phantom Creek Estate Winery chief executive officer Santiago Cilley says the winery still has permits to operate its lounge areas and they plan to move forward with the restaurant operation out of those venues.

He said the winery still has several options, noting the non-farm use of the land, which is essentially the winery footprint, is still a very small percentage of land use.

Cilley says the winery had no problems getting approvals from other governing bodies.

"We understand everyone has different concerns," he says. "We will continue stating our case and trying to get our permits, as we continue looking at options to utilize the facility the way we considered."

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