Plans for amphitheatre at Monte Creek progressing through TNRD

Monte Creek Ranch Winery is one step closer in its bid to create an outdoor amphitheatre on its site nine kilometres east of Kamloops.

The winery’s project was back at the Thompson-Nicola Regional District’s board of directors meeting last week, seeking a zoning amendment that will be required before it can break ground on the amphitheatre. The amendment passed its first reading.

There are still hurdles ahead for the project. The TNRD expressed concerns related to noise and light intrusion from an outdoor amphitheatre. Monte Creek has retained a Vancouver acoustics firm, BKL Consultants Ltd., to assist with an acoustic study and the amphitheatre design.
The project must come back to the TNRD for second and third readings of the bylaw, as well as a public hearing — at which point the study results will be delivered — before it can proceed.

Monte Creek general manager Erik Fisher told KTW he would ideally like to return to the board of directors meeting on Sept. 22.

The winery — which has been owned by the Sidhu family since 2009 — first brought the amphitheatre to the TNRD in January, at which point the application was forwarded to the Agricultural Land Commission for consideration.

The application included plans for the amphitheatre, a commercial assembly area on the front lawn of the winery — intended to host weddings, parties and corporate events — overflow parking west of the winery building and a separate restaurant. For the changes to take place, land had to be taken out of the Agricultural Land Reserve for non-farm use.

The ALC approved plans for the amphitheatre, parking lot and assembly area, but not the restaurant.

“We’re going to revisit it,” Fisher said. “We’ve got lots of long-term plans. It wasn’t necessarily part of our immediate plan. We were advised to think long-term throughout the application process.

“The amphitheatre is where we’re looking to focus at this point.”

The amphitheatre, which will be built into a naturally occurring depression south of the Monte Creek building, will have a south-facing bandshell and will make use of existing topography for acoustics, cutting seating for roughly 1,800 people into the surrounding slope.

The proposed assembly area will have capacity for 143 people and would host a maximum of 40 weddings annually.

The overflow parking will cover nearly 4,000 square metres. No fill or paving is to occur.

Fisher said he doesn’t foresee any issues arising from the acoustic study. The amphitheatre will face south, away from the winery — Monte Creek owns 936 acres of uninhabited land in that direction.

“There’s absolutely no residents back there at all, whatsoever,” he said. “I just had a drone go up and fly over and you can’t see a shack. It’s all just barren forest land that we own.

“So, I don’t suspect there’s going to be any issues with the acoustics, but they obviously want to make sure that it’s done properly and that it’s going to have the least amount of impact to neighbours as possible.”

For its part, the TNRD has been on board with the project, assuming no red flags arise from the study.

In her report to the board, Regina Sadilkova, the director of development services, recommended the project be approved.

“While we anticipate that there will be concern/opposition from some of the area home owners, we submit that the order of magnitude [1,800 capacity theatre] is not excessive — subject to good acoustical design,” Sadilkova wrote.

“Planning Services believes that agriculture, winery and the proposed ancillary uses are an acceptable mix at this location and thus recommend this application.”

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