The need for ALC action at winery

This is the third in a series of posts related to the apparent infraction of ALR rules by Lulu Island Winery. That has significant consequences for the strength of BC’s Agricultural Land Reserve (ALR), and saving the ALR is one of the motivations of many supporters of saving the Garden City Lands. The earlier posts, which name Bill Jones and Anne Lerner in the titles, appear immediately below this one.

Re “‘Entertainment palace’ grows on ALR land,” Richmond News, Dec. 25.

I visited the Lulu Island Winery palace today. I left in awe.

I’m awed by the mountain panorama from the empty “restaurant” area, the flawlessly hospitable staff in the vast sales and tasting hall, and the acres of flourishing grapevines.

Less happily, I’m awed by the audacity of the owners, who don’t let rules limit them. Under the Agricultural Commission Act, the rules for their business are the winery regulation, which is easy to locate online, complete with policy advice.

With that clear help, surely the owners know that only a small food and beverage lounge, not a restaurant, may be ancillary to a winery — and then only if B.C.’s Liquor Licensing eventually gives them a winery lounge endorsement after consulting the City of Richmond.

And surely they know that their three “wine tasting” halls (in addition to the main tasting/sales hall), go far beyond normal wine tasting space and are suited to large meetings and parties.

Inside the palace, it’s a small convention centre. It’s a thing of beauty, and I bet the owners are as nice as their staff, but neither the city nor the commission can ignore the skirting of ALR provisions and still convey that they, not developers, are at the steering wheel.

The Agricultural Land Commission does not patrol the ALR. It relies on city governments and citizens to report infractions. In the city’s new zoning bylaw, the agricultural zones are limited to “uses consistent with the provisions of the Agricultural Land Reserve.” If the city can’t enforce its zoning, then it’s time to ask the commission to act.

Personally, I wish continued success to both the Lulu Island Wineries and the ALR. That will require imaginative win-win solutions. It is still very possible.

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