Nanoose farm owners must resolve all bylaw infractions before establishing brewery and special event area

Photo by Tyler Hay
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Owners of a farm in Nanoose must resolve all their outstanding bylaws before they can establish a a brewery, lounge and special event site. The Liquor and Cannabis Regulation Branch (LCRB) requires the Regional District of Nanaimo (RDN) to provide a board resolution prior to approval of a special event area at the Rusted Rake Farm.

The owners of the farm previously operated a restaurant on their property without the required building permits, according to the RDN. In response to enforcement from the Agriculture Land Commission (ALC) and the RDN, Jodie Lucas and William Gemmel ceased operation.

They then initiated the process of establishing a brewery using grain grown on their property. The ALC said the proposed alcohol production facility is permitted and it is the applicant’s responsibility to ensure compliance with the Agricultural Land Reserve Use Regulations (ALR). 

The RDN said the owners must obtain  proper permits for a 17 metre bridge across Nanoose Creek, which has already been built on the property without permits.

The owners are also seeking a special event endorsement from the RDN which would allow the sale, service and consumption of liquor during special events such as a wedding, concert or private party.

“The proposed special event endorsement compliments the nature of the proposed brewery and food and beverage service lounge by providing guests with a unique opportunity to enjoy beer produced with local grain, as well as food prepared using ingredients sourced from the subject property,” said RDN staff in a report for the board of directors.

The LCRB asked the RDN to consider impacts on the community and neighbours.

“That special event area almost becomes an extension of their lounge — once approved, it is our understanding that it runs with the land. Even though the applicants may be respectful of the neighbour, future owners may not be,” said Myles Mana, who lives close to the property, at the RDN’s regular board meeting on Oct. 27.

Mana said he and other neighbours support the brewery and lounge, but not the special event area. He said noise and parking are also a concern.

Public consultation by the RDN showed the community is largely in favour of the Rusted Rake brewery and lounge, but there are concerns around the special event area.

Director Leanne Salter said the decision is frustrating for her and the RDN because the nature of the application is inappropriate for land designated for agriculture.

“The ALC… have turned it into a place where people can go basically and party in a neighbourhood,” she said. “It is land to produce food, not for parties, not for alcohol and not for cannabis, but here we are.”

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