The owners of Nature’s Basket, a fruit stand south of town, were told by the RDOS they don’t have permission to operate a commercial kitchen after they spent around $80,000 to build one.
“The addition of a café to the fruit stand was done without approval,” said RDOS planning manager Christopher Garrish. “When it came to the Regional District’s attention that a commercial kitchen had been added to the structure, a stop-work order was issued.”
Beantjit Chahal, who owns the fruit stand with her husband Gurmeet, wants to serve hot food grown on site, but since Nature’s Basket is located in the ALR, it will need a variation permit in order to legitimize her commercial kitchen.
“Our concept is farm to table,” she said, mentioning soups and sandwiches as menu items. “We want to serve what we cook – 80 per cent of what we cook will be grown on our farm.”
The Chahal’s plan on applying for a variation later this month but don’t expect anything to be ready before next spring.
“Gaining approval for a cafe use on lands in the ALR and zoned AG1 is not a simple matter,” said Garrish, “as there are Provincial and RDOS policies in place to protect agricultural uses. Put simply, the AG1 Zone does not allow for restaurant uses, including cafes or commercial kitchens, and the building needs to be brought into compliance with the applicable zoning.”
With so many wineries nearby that have restaurants operating on site, Beantjit assumed her commercial kitchen would only need to pass inspection from Interior Health, which it did. So earlier this year, when the Chahal’s submitted an application to the RDOS for a Development Variance Permit, they only requested a change to outdoor signage.
So Nature’s Basket’s brand new kitchen will sit idle unless the RDOS approves the Chahal’s DVP application.
Despite the stress and costs incurred by the red tape, Beantjit is understanding and said the RDOS is being supportive.
“I’m gonna give them the benefit of the doubt that there was a miscommunication,” says Area C director Rick Knodle. “I don’t think we do a great job sometimes communicating how all the rules and regulations work.”
Knodle says it’s a great project that “Highlights something other than grapes in the region – highlights our diversity.”