A proposal to erect a 35 meter (115-foot) lighthouse at a West Kelowna winery is turning heads.
If approved, this would serve as the city’s tallest building. In order to be approved, West Kelowna council would have to significantly raise the current building height limit from 15.0 meters (49.2 feet).
The lighthouse would serve as a wine tasting and production facility at Goats Peak Winery, located at 2789 Highway 97 South.
The winery was recently purchased in 2019 by Monette Farms, with the intent to develop into a 12-acre estate vineyard and winery. By 2025 they expect to be producing 8,000 cases of wine annually. On-site they will plant Pinot Gris, Pinot Blanc, Pinot Noir and Gamay grapes.
The lighthouse would stand 25 feet taller than the Mission Hill Winery bell tower, a familiar landmark in West Kelowna.
When the matter came before West Kelowna council Tuesday (Oct. 13), winery owners explained in their application they believe the building’s “unique theme and height” will add to the development of the community and create a destination for tourists to visit.
The winery’s vision is to make the Westside Wine Trail and West Kelowna, “a world destination for wine tourism.”
“This proposed winery is intended to be a beacon for tourism and local pride, and is inspired by other famous towers and iconic lighthouses,” reads the report in council.
The lighthouse would be visible from the highway, something winery owners believe would be an ‘attractive feature’ on the landscape.
Light pollution was noted by City of West Kelowna planner, Hailey Rilkoff, as a potential issue that would need to be worked around.
West Kelowna’s Agricultural Advisory Committee (AAC) supported the construction of the project, only if the first five acres of land are planted before construction.
The Ministry of Agriculture noted potential impacts to future residential neighbours in terms of noise, and may also impact the use of helicopters in operation of a cherry orchard (to the north and east) of the farm.
Transport Canada did not note any navigational concerns in regards to the Kelowna Airport, however, said this should also be submitted to NAV Canada for their consideration, before issuing a building permit.
Rilkoff recommended Council approve the proposed variance application and support the project, noting the proposed building is not anticipated to create significant negative impacts.
Some councillors expressed the need to hear more about the project before forming an opinion on it. Some recommended a deferral. Others expressed extreme opposition to the project.
“This commercial enterprise, I wish them all the best with their business, but to me, it would be a deterrent,” said coun. Carol Zanon, adding that she would want to see something in line with the City’s Official Community Plan, as well as the public’s interests.
Several councillors expressed the need to hear from the public before moving the project forward.
Coun. Jayson Zilkie admitted all councillors were struggling with the height variance, adding that it’s hard to make a decision based on the renderings which he referred to as low quality.
He compared this proposal to the Mission Hill bell tower, which he said was relatively meaningless in the early 2000s, but become iconic to the community over time.
Coun. Stephen Johnson said he wanted to ensure nearby farms were not impacted, adding he wrestles with the overall design and would like the developer to come forward with more detail and specificity.
Coun. Jason Friesen said he agrees with coun. Zanon in that lighthouses doesn’t belong in West Kelowna, however, agreed with Zilkie in that it may become iconic over time.
He approved of the non-farm-use application and height variance.
Council ultimately voted to postpone, not deny the issuance of a development variance permit. The lighthouse project is expected to return to council at a later date.
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