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New owners still trying to move The Log Barn beyond past controversies

The Log Barn 1912 is located on Highway 97A just north of Armstrong.
June 26, 2017 - 9:00 PM

VERNON - Few businesses in the North Okanagan have done more to court customers — and controversy — than the Log Barn on Highway 97A between Armstrong and Enderby.

You know the one, how could you miss it? Nearly a dozen billboards and several dinosaurs, lions, dragons and adorable goats try to draw tourists off the busy highway and into the farmland business for a sausage or a hot dog or a take-home pie. 

But some questionable business practices inside earned it plenty of local criticism. ‘Terrible’ is its top rank on Trip Advisor. Building bylaw and building code violations prompted several orders from the Township of Spallumcheen, there were issues with too many signs, and at one point, the dispute even went to court. It wasn’t the only court case. Several others were filed in B.C. Supreme and Provincial court before the company foreclosed in early 2017.

Now, back in prime tourism season, new owners of The Log Barn 1912, are hoping to change that reputation and make it something the community can be proud of, not apologize for. 

“We are not the Log Barn of the past,” says Liang Zhao, one of the new property owners. “We are the new Log Barn.”

But it’s not that easy escaping a dinosaur-sized legacy. Though the property changed hands in January, it’s still operating without a business licence due to remaining bylaw violations. The difference, says Spallumcheen Mayor Janice Brown, is the new owners are trying hard to clean up the reputation. 

“We met with the new owner a couple weeks ago and went through every (compliance) item with him,” Brown says. “He was very cooperative. He really wants to be a good community member.”

She says some of the bylaw contraventions have already been fixed.

“We’re really excited he wants to work within our bylaws,” Brown says.

The Township could technically fine the business on a daily basis for contravening the bylaws, but Brown says they would rather work with them towards compliance.

According to a company summary, the Log Barn 1912 Enterprises Corp. has three directors: Ning Li, Hong Tao Luo and Zhao. All have addresses out of the Lower Mainland. According to B.C. Assessment, they picked up the Log Barn for $2.7 million. 

In a short but complicated interview, Zhao said he wants to bring the operation into full bylaw compliance and has also had discussions about Highway 97A and traffic-related issues, but would not go into specific details. He and his marketing manager say there are only a few outstanding compliance orders remaining.

“We are all positives,” Zhao says. “We would like to have more connection with the local community.”

— Editor's note: Zhao and his marketing manager agreed to an interview about the new ownership and efforts to comply with Spallumcheen’s bylaws, but requested anonymity which was refused.


To contact a reporter for this story, email Charlotte Helston or call 250-309-5230 or email the editor. You can also submit photos, videos or news tips to the newsroom and be entered to win a monthly prize draw.

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News from © InfoTel News Ltd, 2017
InfoTel News Ltd

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