Maple Ridge city council has approved a temporary use permit (TUP) for Yellow House Farm.
Since October last year, owners of the new farm-to-table restaurant have been working with the city to open their doors this year.
However, Rayne Beveridge, who rented a 17-acre farm on 272 Street in Whonnock for Yellow House Farm and its complimentary Sunflower Cafe, accused the city of treating them unfairly.
The decision was made at a council meeting on July 27 to issue the one-year temporary permit as long as certain terms and conditions are met including Fraser Health approvals for all on-site services, that there are washroom facilities for customers and the general public; building and trades permits are obtained with any new structure; electrical work for the kitchen is permitted and certified, that the kitchen has an approved building permit; that a conditional business licence is obtained; and that the temporary use permit application is only for use of the outdoor cafe and not for any additional agri-tourism or commercial ventures.
Yellow House Farm is to be a certified organic farm practising natural, sustainable, and ethical agriculture. The cafe is to serve dishes created by professional chefs using produce from the farm.
Beveridge said he started the farm because he saw problems in society’s food systems – a lack of nutrition, exploitation and a negative impact on the environment.
However, he described situations where the city would tell them that they couldn’t do things, but not explain why and he also recollected leaving messages and sending emails to city hall, that would go unanswered for weeks.
“It’s just been a crazy experience,” he shared at the time.
In their approval, though, city councillors accused the Beveridge family of mistreating city bylaw staff since the process of approval began.
Coun. Ryan Svendsen said his reason for supporting the temporary use permit for Yellow House Farm is he believes the farm is going to be a benefit to the community, despite any inconveniences it may incur in the community.
“Where else in the Lower Mainland can you have a farm-to-table experience with organic food and that, and I think that I personally want that in Maple Ridge,” he said.
However, he added, there is risk in the venture and addressed Beveridge, who was in council chambers, adding that he was giving his approval but, “Please sir don’t make me regret it”. And to have respect for his neighbours.
Coun. Ahmed Yousef also supported the issuing of the permit.
“I very much support what you are doing having grown up on a farm myself where I could, quite literally, reach out and grab the food that I would like to eat, and prepare it or eat it raw as it was. And to have that setting right here in Maple Ridge is testament and is definitely characteristic of what makes Maple Ridge so unique and such a sought after place,” he said.
Coun. Judy Dueck said she would support the permit, saying she wants to support local business and that this venture sounds very exciting. But, she noted, she was hesitant because of the behaviour that has transpired over the last year and a half. She said there have been past challenges where the applicant did not comply or do what was asked of him. And, also there have been complaints from neighbours.
Coun. Gordy Robson added his support echoing the comments of his fellow councillors, adding that Beveridge did not make it easy to be a supporter.
“This TUP is an exception. It is allowing commercial use in a residential area,” said Coun. Chelsa Meadus. The same area, she said, that has been “devastated” by Tantalus Labs. Meadus said although she was giving her support, that Beveridge’s past behaviour does not give her much faith in the applicant.
“I will not hesitate to pull this TUP if asked,” she added.
Coun. Kiersten Duncan said she was very supportive, noting the past challenges.
“I hope that in the future we can find a better way of speaking to those challenges,” she said.
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