Residents living off Lower Bench Road are hosting a protest this evening (May 15) against a nearby winery that wants to add a full-service lounge.
According to a press release issued by neighbours, they are strongly opposed to the “invasion on their quality of life” that Perseus Winery is causing.
“This is a quality of life and privacy issue. This is not a quiet operation on an acreage far away from other houses like the wineries further up the Naramata Bench” said Caley Tovell. “This will be a noisy lounge right in the middle of a family neighbourhood.”
Lindsey Richardson, Perseus Winery manager, said that though the licence is called a lounge licence, they are not planning a large operation.
“Lounge is a very big stretch of the word for what we are attempting to institute here,” said Richardson. “It only allows us to pour wine by the glass on our patio, it doesn’t mean we are a full service restaurant or anything like that.”
Richardson addedd that they are already serving prepackaged charcuterie snacks, which they will continue.
In 2013 the winery hoped to expand its operations but Penticton city council did not endorse their application to create a lounge because of the concerns brought forward by neighbours about the potential noise issues it could cause for the neighbourhood. As well residents said it could cause other problems including additional traffic, fumes from the parking lot and drinking in a residential neighbourhood.
In 2007, Perseus purchased a house located at 134 Lower Bench Rd. to provide access to an acreage on Middle Bench Road in the Uplands area.
“Our neighbourhood has been existence for over 65 years. This is the wrong thing in the wrong place” said Trevor Tovell. “Perseus has gone ahead with their expansion of their 44-seat lounge without getting liquor board or city approval. This just isn’t right.”
Richardson said the winery is following the process set out by the city and the Liquor Control and Licencing Branch.
”We’ve had absolutely no renovations, no construction and no sign changes, changes to hours or anything like that,” said Richardson. “It is literally for the existing infrastructure.”
The Tovells said little has changed from the previous application that was rejected, other than the hours of operation have been reduced to 8 p.m. Neighbours contend this will still dramatically effect the quality of life for the residents. They said if city council grants Perseus the applications, other subdivisions in Penticton could potentially face similar developments where agricultural land interfaces with quiet neighbourhoods. The Tovells are encouraging all people to question city councillors at the upcoming council meeting on May 23.
Having successfully fought the previous application the neighbourhood has re-organized and will be holding a protest on Lower Bench Road in front of Perseus on May 15 at 6:15 p.m. As well the action group will be attending the city council meeting on May 23 to oppose the development.