Plans revealed for culinary college at Summerhill Pyramid Winery

College proposed at winery

Kelowna city council will get its first look next week at Summerhill Pyramid Winery’s proposed “Culinary College for Humanity.”

The final version of an idea first submitted to the city one year ago will see a six-storey building built on top of the existing wine production/warehousing facility. Inside, would be large kitchens and classrooms, 150 bedrooms for students and faculty, wine tasting rooms, admin offices and a large atrium.

“In addition, gardens aimed at producing biodiverse food are incorporated to every level of the proposed structure to a total of approximately 37,000-square-feet of proposed food producing area,” says city staff report to council.

While city planners are endorsing the project, it must also clear the Agricultural Land Commission via a non-farm-use application, which is not a sure thing.

In a letter to the city, the B.C. Ministry of Agriculture said it “has concerns” about the project, calling its scope “disproportionate” to the primary agricultural activity taking place on the property.

And while the ALC board operates independently from the Ministry of Agriculture, the board has never hesitated to reject projects that they believe overtake, rather than complement, existing farming operations on a lot.

While city staff say such a building would typically be in an urban centre, planners believe the positives would outweigh the negatives.

“The proposal has potential to generate alternative agricultural value to the city and the region in providing for a rare opportunity for value-added agricultural amenities,” the staff report says.

Winery owner Stephen Cipes notes in his application that the new building, because it is being built on another, “will not displace a single square foot of arable land.”

The whole facility has been designed with guidance of the Sparking Hill’s Swarovski Management Team.

"Both professional and consumer designed courses will be offered to support sustainable, localized food systems, including in subjects as varied as nose-to-tail preparation of animals, urban farming, food preservation, vegetable forward meal preparation, eliminating food waste, and regenerative and organic agricultural systems," Cipes said in the application.

Kelowna city council will discuss the proposal Monday and vote on whether to forward the plan to the ALC for its consideration.

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