A proposal by the owners of Mission Hill Family Estate Winery to expand the operations with guest cottages, a small boutique hotel, an artist-in-residence studio, wellness centre, restaurant, art gallery, wine museum and micro brewery over the next 10 years is headed to a public hearing.
But several West Kelowna councillors are warning that if traffic issues are not addressed to the satisfaction of residents living in the area, the proposal is in for a rough ride.
The winery’s expansion, slated for 15 hectares below the existing winery site and overlooking Okanagan Lake, has already been the subject of nearly a year’s consultation, reports and studies.
While the date of the public hearing has not been set, council approved sending it to the next step in the process after being told both truck traffic and regular traffic will not increase by large amounts despite the addition of so many amenities at the site.
The work is expected to take place over the next 10 years.
“I agree it’s a wonderful facility but I am still concerned about traffic,” said Coun. Bryden Winsby.
“We’re going to run into sustained opposition to this until we figure out a solution.
One way to deal with additional traffic would be if the municipality can do a deal with the Westbank First Nation, which owns land adjacent to the Winery site.
West Kelowna wants to build a road across WFN land but the band is opposed.
Coun. Duane Ophus said he was not surprised by the opposition.
He noted the WFN wants to build a reservoir on the land and a road would interfere with that plan.
“It’s just not a viable alternative,” he said.
The proposed development would be accessed by Mission Hill Road or Ridge Boulevard via Vineyard Drive or Gregory Road.
Council says improvements would have to be made to the roads and staff has suggest traffic “calming measures” to slow traffic in the residential area.
But several councillors said that is only likely to annoy people who live in the area.
“On one side there’s a dream and a vision but until the traffic situation is resolved, no one will be happy,” said Coun. Carol Zanon.
“These proposals won’t solve the problems.”
Mayor Doug Findlater said he has received complaints about truck traffic in the area.