It is unfortunate that Val Tait, the owner of Bench 1775 Winery, was not at the May 4 city council meeting.
If she had been she would have heard the strong opposition from her neighbours to expand her special events operations. Opposition she claims to be unaware of, until now anyway. Perhaps she does not hear or does not care. Her neighbours are upset that the crowds and loud music from special events currently impact their quality of life.
At the moment, each of these special events requires an individual application. As Councillor Helena Konanz said “It’s a serious situation to be in when you have to keep applying.” The paperwork and the expense must be worth their while otherwise they would stop. Also, it keeps a check on irreversible development along the Naramata bench that would definitely change it for the worse.
I think that we are all grateful that the ALR has been a major player in preventing this area from losing its purpose and character. There seems to be a new winery opening each month and you see more land being cleared for vineyards.
A vineyard requires considerable start-up investment and does not give a return for several years. In business terms, a vineyard must still be financially viable as it does not seem necessary to increase a winery’s revenue by hosting large events in an area that is not appropriate for them, particularly when it seriously impacts your long-term neighbours. I am not a resident of that area, but I feel strongly that any changes to it need to be made slowly and only after receiving serious thought, discussion and input.