District of Lake Country supports Gatzke's apple tent

Apple dispute end in sight

The David and Goliath dispute between Oyama apple farmer Alan Gatzke and the District of Lake Country has taken another turn.

It appears the District of Lake Country isn't that interested in shutting down Gatzke's apple tent at 9441 Hwy 97, where he's been selling apples for eight years now.

Councillor Jerremy Kozub tells Castanet, "council is behind him 100 per cent."

Kozub says it's not the bylaw department's fault either, as they were operating on a complaint and they go by the policies that are written.

"Someone has made a complaint about him (Alan Gatzke) selling apples in a spot that he shouldn't but all of council and the mayor we agree he should be allowed to continue selling from that location," Kozub says.

Kozub says he intends to present a motion to address the issue at the next council meeting on Tuesday.

"We had already directed staff not to enforce so there was going to be no enforcement but Alan pulled it (his tent) down until he has a guarantee in writing that he's allowed to continue doing what he's doing."

Gatzke is happy about what he's heard so far but still questions why the original complaint wasn't given more scrutiny considering he's been reassured that he hasn't done anything wrong.

Gatzke claims, aside from the matter of the zoning issue, the anonymous complainant also indicated they couldn't compete with Gatzke's prices for apples at 50 cents per pound or $5 per box.

According to correspondence Gatzke shared with Castanet, the average cost for a pound of apples from the BC Fruit Growers Association over the past three years has been steady at 12 cents per pound, considerably less expensive than Gatzke's price.

Kozub says the matter will be dealt with, but it might take longer than a few weeks.

As for Gatzke, he says he has taken down his apple tent for the season and has now switched to the honour system for what's left of this year's apple crop.

"We've got them set up outside our location by our market (Pelmewash Pkwy) and if the weather's good we'll have the store open and people can come in and check out our jams and jellies. Otherwise we are relying on the honour system."

Gatzke says he feels vindicated and grateful to all the people who have supported him during the dispute.

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