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Neighbours of West Kelowna winery decry expansion plans

Winery expansion slammed

Frind Winery and the City of West Kelowna are coming under attack from resort owners who claim the winery is contravening Agricultural Land Commission policies.

They say the city is letting it happen.

In a series of emails to Castanet News, owners of resort homes at Boucherie Beach Cottages, situated next to the winery, say they have received plans by the winery dated Oct. 1, 2019, showing an expansion proposal they claim would cover nearly 30 per cent of the property.

These would include new and existing winery buildings, driveway, parking lot and landscaping.

They say ALC guidelines allow only for five per cent of ALR property can be developed for farm-related commercial or industrial uses.

Residents also acknowledge updated plans may have been submitted to the city they have not seen.

The issue appears to have come to a head as Frind Winery prepares to construct a new production facility on the property.

"We’re calling on the City of West Kelowna to require that (a) Frind amend its plans so the development complies with the ALC’s 5% lot coverage policy or (b) the winery make an ALR non-farm use application and secure the approval of the ALC before proceeding," said strata president Roy Fitzpatrick in an email to Castanet News.

“And we’re calling on the provincial Minister of Agriculture Lana Popham and Agricultural Land Commission chair Jennifer Dyson to stand behind the ALC policy and insist it be followed."

In another email, resident Jeff Desrochers claims the city is shirking its responsibility by claiming it has no jurisdiction.

"It is the municipality's responsibility to ensure a proposed development meets with all local and provincial regulations and guidelines before issuing a building permit," Desrochers claimed.

"When the proposed lot coverage exceeds five per cent, the city has an obligation to honour BC government policy and require developers to submit a Non-Farm Use Development Application to the ALC.

But the City of West Kelowna's director of development services Mark Koch says assertions by the residents are not accurate.

He says farm production buildings such as the one being proposed by Frind Winery are deemed a farm use by the Agricultural Land Commission.

"My understanding through the land commission is the reference to the five per cent is when the ALC is considering applications for non-farm use," said Koch.

"They advise us that the proposed production facility is indeed deemed a farm use and, as such the policy being referred to is not applicable to the situation."

Frind Winery has an application into the city for a building permit for the new building. That permit has not yet been issued.

Koch also says cottage owners have known for some time that farming activities could take place on the adjacent property.

"When the cottages were being rezoned, council had the foresight to require a covenant to be registered on that property flagging the fact that the properties are next to an active agricultural operations, and that they could be impacted by typical farm practices."

Castanet News has reached out to the Agricultural Land Commission for clarification on the issue.

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