A wedding venue that will be located at a former winery at 6380 Lakes Rd. has been a green light to proceed by the Municipality of North Cowichan.
But the permit to allow the wedding venue at the 6.1-acre property will have some significant restrictions for the time being as the municipality weighs the many concerns of some of the neighbours against the needs and plans of the proponents.
At its meeting on Aug. 15, North Cowichan council allowed the venue a temporary-use permit for 18 months, which will begin on May 1, 2019.
The time until May 1, 2019, in intended to be used by the proponents, Cameron and Masika Woods, to renovate and prepare the property for the weddings before the permit kicks in.
The site will only be allowed to host 14 weddings during the time the temporary use permit is in effect, and the Woods have agreed that there will be no more than 120 guests at each wedding, and the venue will be closed at midnight after each event.
In her pitch to council, Masika Woods said she has been working in the wedding industry for 13 years and feels her extensive knowledge and experience will ensure successful operations.
“The Cowichan Valley is currently struggling to keep up to the demands of the wedding industry, with most venues having to book couples two years in advance,” she said.
“We hope to alleviate this problem by adding one more venue for couples to choose from. We also hope to help fellow local businesses by providing more customers for hotels, restaurants and local shops from out-of-town guests who are attending weddings at our venue.”
But a number of neighbours of the property at the meeting raised concerns about excessive noise in the mostly rural area, impacts on their property values, and fire risks.
“I’m afraid of the implications to the value of my property if this is allowed next door,” one neighbour said.
“Who wants to live next door to where weddings are taking place every weekend over the summer?
“A lot of the neighbours are adamantly opposed to this.”
Mayor Jon Lefebure said it will be a challenging situation for the Woods to take on the costs and effort of upgrading and renovating the property to be a wedding venue without any guarantees that the permit will be renewed after 18 months.
“But that’s the situation and the proponents are facing many challenges, with dealing with the neighbours’ noise concerns among them,” he said.
“There’s no guarantees of success here and it will be up to the proponents if they want to apply to renew their permit after the 18 months is over.”