Gatzke apple tent on Highway 97 forced to close due to bylaw

Apple tent coming down

After eight years of selling apples from a tent at the side of Highway 97 near Oyama, Alan Gatzke is being forced to close down, but local residents will have one last chance to grab some cheap apples on Thursday.

The apple tent controversy was sparked by a complaint to the District of Lake Country, alleging the property isn't zoned as farmland. Gatzke says he received a notice from Lake Country bylaw services on October 5, asking him to stop selling apples at 9441 Hwy 97 in Oyama. He has long used the location to supplement his main farmer's market on the Pelmewash Parkway.

Gatzke says he's known the owner of the land for 50 years and it was always zoned as a farm. That was until recently, when city council rezoned the land to residential.

"What hurts the most is the damage this situation has done to a lifelong friendship, we'll figure something out, but I don't want to lose a friend."

Gatzke spent the long weekend trying to unload his apples and came up with the idea of giving a free box of apples to residents if they thought his business brought value to Oyama and Lake Country and would send an email to the District of Lake Country saying so.

"Honestly, the nice thing about this controversy is some of the things we have heard from our community, saying how important they feel our business has been over the years."

Gatzke says the response over the long weekend was incredible. Even though he lost his fight with the municipality, he feels vindicated that his business and family contributions are valued by the community.

"I'm not sure what we do from here, I'm working on a few things. Obviously, we used to be on the highway until it was moved a few years back and I direct market so doing my own apple sales is important," Gatzke says.

One thing seems certain according to Gatzke, "I'm likely going to have to cancel a lease we have on a 10-acre parcel for next year and then I guess we'll see what the market does."

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