The plan was to move into their new commercial kitchen space, unpack their equipment and start their organic, vegan eatery and catering business in a new location.
But instead, within an hour of moving into the space, they were told to pack up again and leave.
True Flavours Inc. owner Edward Malone said it was a full spectrum of emotions in the span of one hour.
Originally, True Flavours operated out of a commercial kitchen in the Mission three days a week. Due to the pandemic, he said he wanted to give people healthy and sustainable options, as well as an incentive to stay home, by conducting online cooking sessions and starting an “online restaurant” where people can have their food delivered and set up at home.
But the demand for their service and food was high and operating for only three days a week wasn’t enough, so Malone and his fiancée decided to look for a new place.
“We had been fighting for months to raise money and to source a location that fit us, that would provide us an opportunity to produce food and to be able to serve the community of the Okanagan,” Malone said.
“We met the greatest landlords of all… and they went above and beyond to make sure we transitioned (into the new space) well.”
But on Monday, Nov. 2, the day he was supposed to get his permit to operate, his application was denied because the new location is under A1 zoning. Under A1 zoning, only an agri-tourism business can operate or a home-based business, not a commercial one like True Flavours.
Malone said city staff told him he either needed to find a new location or he needed to apply for rezoning, which could be a long process. The property True Flavours is trying to secure is not on the Agricultural Land Reserve (ALR), meaning he can apply for rezoning through the city.
Wesley Miles, a planning specialist for the City of Kelowna, said the process will take between four to eight months.
“Zoning applications also have to go to council and public hearing. Staff will do an analysis report for council as well but ultimately, it’s up to council to decide,” he said.
“In general, a lot of our agricultural policy leans towards protecting agricultural properties, so their application is unlikely to get support unless there are outstanding circumstances.”
The news was devastating to the couple, who had sold as much of their things as they could to help kickstart the business.
“I’ve sold everything I own that was worth money and have some generous donations made just to secure this location but now because of a zoning issue I can’t operate,” he said.
They had planned to open on Nov. 16 in their new location but now, Malone and his fiancée aren’t sure what their next steps will be.