ERIN – Residents who participated in a public meeting on Dec. 16 seemed satisfied that a proposed wedding/events venue would not become a wild party place after hearing from the property owners.
Krystal and Ryan Knowles hope to open a wedding venue on their property at 5035 Wellington Road 125, between Acton and Ospringe.
The property is zoned agricultural and they are seeking a site-specific zoning amendment to permit the enterprise on a portion of the property. The rest will remain farmland.
Their plan is to refurbish the barn to accommodate up to 150 guests and 10 staff. They are also seeking permission to add a parking area and second access driveway from Wellington Road 125.
Temporary washrooms are proposed for the first few years of operation but long-term, they plan to install a septic system and washrooms within the barn structure. They propose to operate the business on weekends only from May to October.
There is an existing dwelling on the site where the couple intends to live.
“The Knowles are not looking to open a banquet hall,” said Kent Randall, principle planner with EcoVue Consulting, the firm hired by the couple.
“My clients are looking for a peaceful, bucolic setting. Part of the appeal is the setting.”
Randall said noise impact studies have been done and they fall within municipal and provincial regulations.
“The noise impact can easily be mitigated,” he said. “These (venues) are not major noise producers when done correctly.”
Krystal told council and the public that her vision is to provide a boutique barn event space that is both luxurious and rustic.
“We will not stand for loud overnight activities,” she said. “Many barn venues exist who disturb the peace. They are not legal.
“That’s why we went the proper route. We want to run in harmony with the community.”
Krystal said misleading information has been circulating and she’s eager to get the proper information out, to meet with her neighbours and discuss their concerns.
Most of the concerns raised at the meeting had to do with noise and traffic, including from Matthew Sardina, a neighbouring property owner who dialed into the virtual meeting.
“It’s reassuring to hear you’ll be living on the site,” he said.
Anna Spiteri, who lives on Wellington Road 50, thought the timing of opening such a venue is “inappropriate” given COVID-19 and limits on gatherings.
She said she doesn’t think hosting events in the barn will be enough to mitigate the noise and she is also concerned about traffic.
Councillor John Brennan got to the heart of the matter.
“If you start as a wedding venue, will this morph into something else in the future?” he asked.
Knowles said it will take about five years for the business to really take off.
“Prices on barn venues are expensive. There is enough revenue in there. I’m focussing on filling the weekends,” she said.
Randall pointed out the language in the zoning amendment and the site plan agreement can be specific – and restrictive.
The report and comments from the public were received for information. Council will make a decision on the application at a later date.