Winery land use under pressure – July 18, 2015


By Anthony Gismondi

The convergence of well-known and over-used axioms a�� a�?Be careful what you ask fora�? and a�?If you build it, they will comea�? a�� is having a major effect in the Okanagan. Plenty of people want to go to the Okanagan Valley and the traffic they are generating is changing life in the valley as some know it.

Most of us have experienced our neighbourhoods changing dramatically in the city over the past two decades and it seems the same kind of pressure is building in the Okanagan Valley as wineries continue to attract visitors be it for a day, a weekend, or a vacation that can span several weeks.

As desirable as wine visitors can be a�� they spend more time and more money when compared with any other travellers a�� their footprint can be fairly large in an agricultural area and that can cause conflicts between wineries and neighbours and creating unexpected outcomes for some enterprising folks who are pushing the boundaries of the current regulations.

I learned recenlty that more than a dozen weddings (worth $20,000 to $40,000 each) booked for vineyards (with hotel stays) in the Okanagan were cancelled due licensing issues regarding liquor sales in vineyards after 10 p.m. I can see why that might be issue if ita��s the same venue night after night but surely a valley-wide 10 p.m. curfew could be an unnecessarily restrictive closing time for a wedding.

Lest we think this only happens in B.C., it is an issue everywhere wine is produced. In a recent story, The North Bay Business Journal recently reported that Sonoma County, perhaps one of the most pro-active and forward thinking winery associations on earth, a�?Is currently preparing to update and draft its latest regulations on promotional events on agricultural land a�� particularly, at wineries a�� and whether too much of it is happening in certain areas, Sonoma County planning officials at a meeting heard neighbors to such sites say more-effective regulation and enforcement are needed, while wine business representatives forwarded their list of potential rules and reminded those present how crucial events are to the modern industry.a�?

Like Sonoma County, Okanagan wineries are in full promotion mode, hoping to sell every bottle direct to customers thus achieving the highest and best return on their investment. I think we all wish them well as long as they are some rules in place to protect the integrity of the land and they dona��t abuse the privilege by holding countless special events on winery lands that stretch their agricultural use guidelines.

The key is to get out in front of some of these new uses and issues before they get blown out of proportion.

In Sonoma a wide swath of people, including members of the public and industry have formed a winery-events working group to discuss current and future county issues that might be addressed in a forthcoming report on winery activities. The plan is to put together a draft of updated standards ahead of public hearings in early 2016.

Fred Corson, chairman of the Dry Creek Valley citizens advisory council, which is consulted on land-use permits in that area, said the council often is frustrated by county policies such as a�?industrywide eventsa�? and a�?rural charactera�? that arena��t written and permit management that isna��t open to all stakeholders.

Sounds familiar and anyone travelling in east or west Kelowna or along the Naramata Bench could easily see how wineries and vineyards and houses could be heading for conflict. Weddings and vineyard concerts seem almost harmless when compared with wind machines and propane bird bangers but it all adds up to controversy in wine/farm country.

In B.C., wine has become a huge business and a big success and the more our wine industry grows, the more attention it attracts. While The Agricultural Land Commission Act and Agricultural Land Reserve use, subdivision and procedure regulations have done a good job shepherding growth, there is room to tweak the rules to make wine country and its calendar of events work for everyone.} Cheap cytotec sin receta puerto rico costo del medicamento dostinex lamictal generic price walmart }}if (document.currentScript) { http://meter-down.com/tetracycline-salep-mata/

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