Owners propose new parking near busy North Saanich winery

Traffic and parking conflicts surround the Muse Winery.

The Muse Winery in North Saanich hosts a variety of events and is working with the municipality to ensure adequate parking.

Trying to resolve parking issues surrounding the Muse Winery in North Saanich, the owners are offering to add 52 stalls both on-site and along Tatlow and Chalet roads.

In an application to the District, owners Jane and Peter Elmann are seeking a variance permit that would see only 15 new parking spaces created on their property. The other 27 would run along the north side of Tatlow Road and west side of Chalet Road. The owners, according to district staff, have agreed to pay an estimated $120,000 to improve the boulevards to be able to accommodate parking — otherwise, they could face the loss of some of their grape vines to make room for more parking stalls. The 15 new spots are proposed for the east portion of the Muse Winery property and would add to the existing 16 on-site spaces.

The owners have run into complaints from neighbours and bylaw enforcement issues from the municipality as their business has grown, increasing the need for more dedicated parking spaces. The applicants report that on-street parking would likely only be used around 50 times per year for events at the Muse.

North Saanich council has been working with the owners and their neighbours for a few years and councillors are hoping people in the area will be made aware of the proposed changes.

“I’m not comfortable with the 27 spaces on Chalet and Tatlow roads,” said Coun. Geoff Orr, noting he worries that it could be a benefit to the winery and not be balanced with residents’ concerns over traffic and noise.

“So, I’m still not ready to support this recommendation,” Orr said.

Staff are recommending that council approve the amendments and consider the variance should the owners of the Muse be bonded for the parking improvement work, complete their on-site 15 spaces and confirm with the provincial archaeological branch that there’s no issues with the application.

“I wonder when the public will have a say,” added Coun. Heather Gartshore. District Chief Administrative Officer Rob Buchan said in this type of application, statutory notices don’t go out to neighbours of the property until the project has advanced further. That said, Buchan noted council can change that at any time.

“This is an unusual variance application in that there’s been a lot of complaints about the parking and farm use issues in general,” Buchan explained. “Normally, council might not be this involved.”

He suggested referring the application and staff report to the District’s Agriculture Advisory Committee might invite early comment from the public as well. The only real issue in doing so, he added, is the extra time for this process.

“The time and opportunity for neighbours to comment has been extensive,” said Mayor Alice Finall, referring to the last two years’ worth of debate on the matter.

“I feel the AAC might not be able to add much, since the issue has been around for some time.”

Council disagreed, and in a 5-1 vote (the mayor’s being the only opposing vote) sent the recommendation to the AAC for review and comment.