Owners of The Local Harvest Market on Lickman Road are ready to start building — after being given until October 2015 to come into compliance with City of Chilliwack bylaws.
Since they’re still not technically in compliance, fines were recently issued.
But construction on the new structure should kick off in January, with completion set for August 2016.
“As it stands, construction is due to begin in just over one month and we’re incredibly excited as we continue to work hard in accomplishing our mission to create a local food system where every citizen of our city has access to quality food year-round,” wrote owner Dan Oostenbrink in his online announcement about construction.
They were told the process will be fast-tracked, he said. The unique new structure will house their produce market, eatery, bakery and more.
There are even plans to grow citrus and other tropical fruits inside the new market building.
“By early 2015, after less than one year in operation, and after experiencing astonishingly rapid growth and increasing positive public attention, we began facing pressure from our municipality who expressed concerns that we were operating in a building that did not meet the rigorous seismic, fire and structural building code regulations of 2015,” he wrote on the Local Harvest Facebook page.
The owners ended up being issued two fines of $500 each in the past two months, for operating without a business licence, as a result of code violations related to the modified barn structure they opened in two years ago.
“The Local Harvest Market will continue to serve quality homegrown foods to this community despite continued political pressure and high fines,” Oostenbrink wrote. Their partners including Anita’s Organic Mill, Magpie’s Bakery and Curly Kale Eatery will join them in the new building.
A section 57 was also registered on title last summer because of the outstanding deficiencies.
Council members said they did not want to be “punitive” but had to apply the rules equally to ask that the building come into compliance and obtain a business licence. They said they were concerned about setting precedent.
“We haven’t changed our tune and right from outset we’ve been transparent about what we were doing,” said Oostenbrink.
They were hoping the city would not issue fines since they have taken steps to move toward coming into compliance, but they received notification of the second fine this week.
“We’re at their mercy,” he said. “We hoping all the good things we’re doing will mean they’ll grant us a reprieve.”