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Kelowna Mountain: Agritourism development still short on discussion

The Central Okanagan Regional District is still looking to speak with Kelowna Mountain's developer before its grand opening this spring, though it is pleased the mountain will not force a change in its bylaws.

Last week the courts found in favour of the district as developer Mark Consiglio fought to ensure the bylaw was not tight enough to hamper use of the grand Italian villa he's using for a welcome centre or the accompanying amenities he's added to the property.

The bid failed, meaning the site is still zoned for agritourism and thus requires significantly more discussion and negotiation with district staff before many of the plans volleyed about in the media can legally materialize.

"The long and the short of this is we've offered, on a couple of occasions, to meet with the landowner to discuss the uses in place and the intended uses and future plans for that property, and they have not taken us up on that offer," said Bruce Smith, RDCO spokesman.

The bylaw's definition of agritourism means the welcome centre, while technically legal, can only have 100 people in it at a time and only 200 square metres of it can be used for the public.

As for the 800-seat amphitheatre already on site or the Ginseng greenhouses he's pitched publicly, it may be possible, but this would require further work with the regional district.

"The property owner has options available to him if he wishes to discuss them with RDCO staff," said Smith. "Anything that exceeds the provisions of the zoning bylaw would require consideration of the board."

He could, for example, seek a special events permit, temporary use permit or site-specific zoning amendment, should he want to start ticketed concerts.

At this point, RDCO staff are simply encouraging the developer to initiate a discussion with the local government body.

Agritourism includes land, buildings and structures for the purpose of providing tourist facilities and activities directly associated with working farms and ranches, under the RDCO's bylaw.

Typically, this would be things like farm tours, promotional events for farm products, assembly uses, restaurants and convenience retail stores.

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