Shelter Point Distillery will need to provide more details before the regional district supports removing waterfront from the agricultural land reserve.
Area D director John Rice, who represents the region, says the owner can always reapply.
“I’m supporting that this is going to be denied, knowing full well that if Shelter Point wishes to bring another application forward, he can do so,” he said at Wednesday’s regional district board meeting, to applause from the gallery.
Owners of the distillery and surrounding farmland north of Black Creek recently applied to the Agricultural Land Commission to remove three hectares of property along the shoreline from the land reserve. It would leave 65 hectares for farming.
Aniko Nelson with the Strathcona Regional District said the district has the authority to prevent applications for agricultural land removal from going ahead, if deemed inappropriate. She added that the distillery’s application is for three hectares of land along the shoreline to be converted into three one-hectare parcels for development, and an access road and utility corridor be built to service the lots.
The shoreline includes a trail which connects to the popular Oyster River trail and nature park nearby. The property in question is along the shoreline trail. It is not currently used for any significant farming activity, and is overgrown with brush and brambles.
Dozens in the community were upset by the development plans, sending around 80 emails to the Strathcona Regional District in opposition. Some showed up at the board’s meeting Wednesday to express concern and support Rice’s decision.
As a result, directors voted down the distillery’s application.
Some directors, including Mayor Kermit Dahl, said they weren’t against the idea, but needed more information about the usefulness of the land in question for farming before they could make an informed decision.
Shelter Point Distillery was opened in 2011 on the site of a former UBC research farm. Since then the distillery has won international awards for its whiskies.