Concerns were voiced by neighbours of a Brentwood Bay winery seeking a food primary license during last week’s Central Saanich council meeting.
Church and State Winery on Benvenuto Avenue in Brentwood Bay has, for the last two years, worked to obtain a food primary license. Currently the winery cannot serve any other alcohol but their own wine.
“Our motivation obviously is to promote and sell our own wine but a food primary license will allow us to better serve our clients during special events. We’d be able to serve craft beers, other wines and spirits during weddings and parties which gives our customers more selection,” said Frank Edgell, the management consultant and vineyard manager for Church and State.
Edgell continued to say that if the winery were to obtain the license, it wouldn’t spark any physical changes to the space but apart from changes to allowable booze selection, the license would allow for amplified music.
“The change would allow us to have a food primary license over two thirds of the space, so the first section of the building, as you walk in, would remain under wine license for the tasting and retail area for our wine, and the kitchen and lounge areas would be under food primary licensing,” he said.
Edgell added that the allowance of amplified music means the winery can continue to have their usual piped in music during the day through their sound system as well as continue to have music in the evenings during special events.
“We will be taking every step to make sure the sound is within the allowable limits, which includes employees stepping outside during the evenings and measuring the decibel levels at our property line,” Edgell said.
Central Saanich resident Liz Puttergill whose home backs on to the property said neighbours’ concerns stem from the allowance of amplified music in the license.
“I have a petition with 47 signatures, all people from around the winery including about a half dozen people who live right on the winery border that don’t want to see this change happen,” said Puttergill.
“When they have events there now we can hear the music and it’s loud. When there are things going on there until 11 p.m. it’s a matter of sleep for the neighbours. This is a quiet farming neighbourhood. We’re not against the liquor licensing but please, no amplified music,” she said.
In order to qualify for a food primary license, the winery had to go through the Agricultural Land Commission which has approved the request as a non-farm use on the land. Now it’s up to Central Saanich council to decide if they will proceed with a temporary use permit to allow the license change.
“A motion was made last Tuesday night to approve a temporary use permit for a year, initially, instead of three,” said Mayor Alastair Bryson.
“Temporary use permits can be up to three years but because this is sort of a trial situation, council chose to do it for a year. There will be conditions set for the winery concerning allowable sound levels. The hope is that we can enable them to provide a broader range of a entertainment and liquor experiences while balancing that with concerns and rights of neighbours trying to enjoy their properties.”
Bryson said the conditions are clear that sound must be no louder than 60 decibels at the property line and that windows and doors must be closed by 10 p.m. Any music must be turned off by 11 p.m.
“Council has also asked for a police report on the complaint history for the current licensing and the consideration of issuance of the temporary use permit is being postponed until we receive that report. We want to make sure we’re doing our due diligence,” said Bryson.
Council is expected to receive the report from police and make a decision on the temporary use permit at an upcoming regular meeting of council. The next meeting is scheduled for Monday, May 5.