Kitsch Winery in south east Kelowna has won city council’s support to host two large gatherings this summer. Now it requires approval from the provincial Agricultural Land Commission. —Image: Kitsch Winery/YouTube

Kelowna council backs big gatherings at winery

Kitsch Winery wants to host two gatherings, one for 500 people and another for 350

Kelowna city council is throwing its support behind a local winery that wants to host two large events on its property despite opposition from city staff.

Earlier this week, council voted to forward the application by the owners of Kitsch Winery on Neid Road in south east Kelowna to the provincial Agricultural Land Commission with its support. The winery is in the Agricultural Land Reserve.

Current ALC rules say wineries in B.C. are allowed to hold 10 events on their properties per year with a maximum of 150 guests at each event. Larger gatherings require approval from the local municipality and the ALC.

The winery, which has held large events on its property in the past—which resulted in complaints about noise from neighbours— wants to hold a celebration of its latest wines for 1,000 people July 14 and a fundraiser for the annual Dream Car Rally charity event for 350 people Aug. 25.

In order to win over council, the winery owners said they were willing to reduce the size of the July 14 event to 500 people. Winery officials say the July 14 event is already sold-out at 500 tickets.

Despite the staff recommendation not to support the winery’s application to the ALC, Mayor Colin Basran and several councillors said they felt the events were worth supporting because they will help promote agriculture and, with the stunning view from the property, the beauty of the area.

“Where better to have an event to allow a winery to celebrate its newest vintage than on its property overlooking the lake and the city?” asked Basran.

Coun. Luke Stake said he was of two minds about allowing the events. But he said he felt the arguments for allowing them outweighed those opposed.

One councillor, however, was not swayed.

Coun. Gail Given said she was concerned about noise and the size of the expected crowds.

A number of homes in the Hall Road subdivision border the farm on one side but the owners said the gatherings will be well away from those houses.

Another councillor, like Coun. Tracy Gray, warned the winery owners that if there were complaints again this year, she may refuse to support future large gatherings at the winery.

In the end, council voted 8-1 to forward the application on to the Agricultural Land Commission with its support. The ALC will the final say.

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