Summerhill Pyramid Winery. (Contributed)

Summerhill Pyramid Winery. (Contributed)

Fear of ‘hotel in a vineyard’ prompts Kelowna council to defer culinary school decision

City council needs assurance the educational facility proposed at Summerhill Winery will be used as stated

Kelowna city council has deferred its decision on whether it will endorse plans for a culinary school at Summerhill Pyramid Winery.

City staff recommended council’s support for the concept of an educational culinary facility built on the Summerhill Pyramid Winery property located on Chute Lake Road. If council gave the thumbs up, the project would’ve gone to the provincial Agricultural Land Commission (ALC) for consideration.

But council tabled the discussion on Monday (March 1), wanting to first hear from the developer himself.

A concept rendering of the proposed “Culinary College for Humanity.” (Contributed)

A concept rendering of the proposed “Culinary College for Humanity.” (Contributed)

Stephen Cipes, the owner of Summerhill Pyramid Winery, is the man behind the “Culinary College for Humanity” and claims the proposed facility is unique both provincially or nationally. It would include a culinary facility, educational stays, wine tasting, food-producing gardens, and parking. The eight-floor, 35,000-square-foot building would consist of 150 rooms to be used solely by students and faculty, Cipes stated in his application to the city.

“My concern about this is, while it speaks to a really unique opportunity … I don’t want it to be used as a hotel in a vineyard,” said Coun. Mohini Singh.

Several councillors expressed that same fear, saying there’s a risk of the facility becoming a culinary travel destination rather than the proposed educational use.

“As somebody who is looking at a seven or eight-storey, 150 unit potential hotel on agriculture land outside our permanent growth boundary, that’s frightening to me,” said Coun. Gail Given.

Mayor Colin Basran was the lone supporter of the project, saying it would be a tremendous benefit to the city’s agriculture in the long term.

“Agri-tourism, culinary tourism are the hallmarks of this valley,” said Basran. “I appreciate council’s concerns about the form of the building, but we can control that in the next phase.”

The project should come back before council next Monday, pending Cipes’ availability. If endorsed by council and approved by the ALC, Cipes would have to apply for a zoning amendment. At that point, council would give input on building height and proposed use.

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Do you have something to add to this story, or something else we should report on? Email: michael.rodriguez@kelownacapnews.com


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