Little café gets big support

Over 40 people turned out in support of Huckleberry's Cafe.

It was standing room only in Trail city council chambers as over 40 people turned out to show the love they had for Columbia Gardens and its resident restaurant, Huckleberry’s Café.

Most of the people who appeared for the July 16 public meeting supported a move to grant a permanent service commercial C7C licence to the popular restaurant—located at 8195 Old Waneta Road on Columbia Gardens land.

Huckleberry’s had been operating under a temporary commercial use permit for its establishment for the last four years, but since the property was zoned service commercial (C7)—and eating establishments are not listed as a permitted use—the café had been able to operate under a temporary commercial use permit (TCUP).

But the restaurant still had to prove its merit in the public meeting forum for permanent status, and that it could fit in with the fabric of the neighbourhood it had served.

“I truly have difficulty seeing why there is such an issue here,” said one lady during the public comment period of the meeting, pointing to the popularity of the establishment

Nor did council see an issue. During their regular meeting later that night city council approved the third reading of the bylaw, paving the way for its adoption at the next council meeting in August.

City corporate administrator Michelle McIsaac said the information brought to council was “fairly straight forward,” and she recommended third reading that night so as to not delay approval of the re-zone.

“If there were any violations out there, I’m sure our bylaw officers would have caught that,” said councillor Gord DeRosa.

The major issue was parking, with the on-street parking being a necessity due to the compressed nature of the business lot and the neighbourhood.

The availability of parking to serve the greenhouse and the café were limited during peak season, “creating a nuisance for the residential properties nearby,” read a city staff report to council.

The restaurant—managed by Carole Dasti—has used the property owned by Bill Garnett, alongside Columbia Valley greenhouses for four years.

A TCUP was issued for the first three years of its operation but it can only be renewed once. And since the TCUP for Huckleberry’s was renewed in 2010, a rezoning of the property was required to allow the operation to continue.

The proposed change could allow the café to extend its hours past the 9 p.m. restriction in place with the TCUP.