Province allows weddings on farms and orchards; takes Kelowna by surprise | iNFOnews | Thompson-Okanagan's News Source

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Province allows weddings on farms and orchards; takes Kelowna by surprise

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August 10, 2016 - 4:30 PM


KELOWNA - Last week’s announcement by the province it would allow weddings and other events on farms and orchards was a shock to city planning staff and a setback in their efforts to protect agricultural land.

Agriculture ministry officials consulted extensively with other communities about orchard and farm weddings and events but seemed to pay special attention to Kelowna, urban planning manager Ryan Smith says.

“We were consulted at length… by the ministry and they seemed very interested in what we had to say,” he adds.

The ministry gave them no warning last week when it announced the new rules, which Smith says are a fair ways away from where staff would have liked to like to see them.

Up to 10 weddings or special events a year can now be held on a qualified orchard or farm so long as no new structures are built, parking is confined to the property and the number of guests is restricted to a maximum of 150.

The city can’t say no to the events, leaving them with only the power to enforce noise and parking complaints should they arise.

Beyond that, Smith says the city lacks the resources to monitor compliance at weddings and concerts, so is yielding the field to the Ministry of Agriculture.

“From our standpoint, we’re not going to do any further enforcement until we see how this rolls out. If need be, in a couple of years, we see unanticipated problems arise, we will react,” Smith says.

“We’re not sure how the province is going to monitor attendance. We’ve had no communication on this at all."

Smith says staff were disappointed in the new regulation, given recent efforts to stem the misuse of agricultural land in Kelowna.

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