Kelowna council endorses bed and breakfast for the rich and famous

Approval for luxury B&B

Is it a luxury hotel or a high-end bed and breakfast for the rich and famous?

It depends on your perspective.

Regardless, the luxurious mansion on Lochview Road overlooking Okanagan Lake dubbed Chateau Okanagan will be able to operate as a high-end bed and breakfast to the stars if an amendment to the city's bed and breakfast bylaws are given final adoption by council.

The amendment, which would increase the number of allowable guests from eight to 16 and allow additional uses such as banquet and beverage service, meeting rooms, tennis court, pool and spa, was given second and third reading by council following Tuesday's public hearing.

Council voted 8-0 to supported the move. Coun. Maxine DeHart who works in the hotel industry declared a conflict and excused herself from the discussion.

The original application brought forward two year ago sought to turn the property into a boutique hotel, however planner Dean Strachan indicated such a change would require significant upgrades to the property.

"The original application was to go to a full hotel but that would have required redesignation to commercial, commercial upgrade to the property as well as a number of other components, so we began to have a conversation about looking at a bed and breakfast operation for now and maybe in the future pursue that," said Strachan.

"Starting as a bed and breakfast seemed like a transition way to do that and allow them to operate and begin to demonstrate this works well in the community."

Planning director Ryan Smith added changing the property to a commercial zone could open it up to land uses the city may not want to see including other business potential with traffic implications.

Keeping the zone as it is makes the use more predictable, he said.

Francois Theriault, a direct neighbour to the property, was the lone voice to speak against the amendment.

He suggested the city was giving away several thousands of dollars in tax revenue by not going to a commercial zone for what he said is obviously a hotel operation.

He complained the owner was not residing on the property contravening the bed-and-breakfast bylaws and had issues with a movie production on the property last summer that brought with it dozens of vehicles and drunken trespassers.

Birte Decloux, of Urban Options Planning who represented the applicant, apologized for that event saying it was not a pleasant experience and vowed it would "never happen again."

Theriault went on to call the venture a luxury resort for the 0.1 percenters.

He claims it has been running without a business license or a food premises permit.

Decloux called the venture a private guest estate for visitors expecting a certain class of accommodation and services. An exclusive type of accommodation not yet available in the Okanagan.

She said guests would arrive together and be shuttled to the estate and when their stay was complete, shuttled out together.

She indicated the operator of the property would live there full time.

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