This tent is the subject of a years-long battle between Ex Nihilo Vineyards and the Lake Country District.

Image Credit: Submitted/District of Lake Country

There are plenty of wineries in Lake Country, but at least two are embroiled in long-running disputes over building permits.

“I’m banging my head against the wall,” Jeff Harder, co-owner of Ex Nihilo Vineyards, told “It was very difficult. I’m doing my best to try to find a solution.”

About seven years ago he erected what he calls a tent, but it’s actually an awning over a patio. He now has two such structures, one 20ft by 20ft and the other 30ft by 30ft. They are temporary tents and used mainly for shade since people don’t sit outside in the cold, rain or wind.

Two years ago, Lake Country District staff “became aware of a building being constructed without the proper permits in place,” said a report presented to District Council this evening, September 6.

Since then, there have been a number of exchanges of letters and requests for building permits.

The problem is that Lake Country insists on technical documents that the manufacturer will not provide, Harder explained.

He has tried to get national engineering firms to confirm that the tents are in good condition. He has had an engineer give his approval for the way the tent is erected.

“I’ve spent thousands of dollars getting third-party engineering companies to approve someone else’s work overseas,” Harder said.

He has also consulted with businesses across British Columbia that sell and rent tents and who have told him that no other municipality requires a building permit for such structures.

Now staff are asking the Lake Country council to put a title notice on the property to protect it from liability and advise future owners that a “planning permit to place the tent buildings is not issued and may pose a risk to the owner and members of the public,” the report said.

Staff argued that planning permission is required for tents and they are responsible for enforcing these rules.

“In the grand scheme of things, considering what I paid the engineers for this, the penalty is nothing,” Harder said. “I’m disappointed. I would like the district to work with me more to come to a resolution and a solution and work with me. It continues to waste a lot of time and energy. I spent a lot of money here There is no one who wants more security than me.

Harder hopes to speak to the council tonight to tell his side of the story.

On a related note, another effort by staff to put a notice on the title of a winery, this time for what they call a “pizza hut” at Blind Tiger Vineyards which they say was built in 2019 without a permit.

“It’s an outdoor kitchen,” Lorna Mugwe, manager of Marno’s Wood Fired Pizza, told “It’s a wood-burning, built-in stove. It’s just a kitchen.

It is attached to the building that houses the winery and has a tin roof on top.

The owners are overseas and Mugwe have only been working there for a few months so don’t know the full story behind the building permit issues.

The owners have hired engineers to try to accommodate requests from Lake Country and Mugwe expects them to have a representative to speak to the council this evening.

“Outstanding items include: evidence that spatial separation calculations work to prevent fire spread from one structure to another and evidence that the septic system is adequate for the proposed additional loads,” an e-mailer said. email sent to the owner by the district in 2019. .

Similar to the tents at Ex Nihilo, the pizza oven is only used in the summer. It is now closed for the season.

As with the Ex Nihilo notice on the title, the staff wants to protect the Lake Country District from future liability.

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