Tree House Cafe owner Mark LeCorre had a celebratory beer on the outdoor patio on Friday — the first time since 2014 he’s been able to down a drink there without facing a nightmare of regulatory issues at the same time.
The cafe’s popular Music Under the Stars program will be operating with full service potential this summer after nearly five years of hurdles involving local, provincial and federal government branches. The outdoor area came under dispute when the Harbour Authority of Salt Spring Island issued notice it would no longer permit alcohol sales or seating on the portion of undeveloped right-of-way under its jurisdiction. Public safety and emergency access to Kanaka wharf were cited as primary concerns.
LeCorre said agreements have now been finalized with HASSI and the Capital Regional District, which acquired a licence of occupation to part of the laneway to help resolve the dispute. The path has been widened and removable stanchions installed. The final step was approval of the liquor licence for the outside area.
“It’s all good news. It’s something positive for everybody,” LeCorre said. “I think everybody’s happy. There’s lots of pathway space and I think it looks nice, too.”
Members of the public who enjoy the cafe and its summer music program are also celebrating the news the long-running issue has finally been resolved. A petition to allow outdoor service attracted hundreds of signatures, and some islanders attended weekly “Not-So-Silent Night of Summer” awareness evenings on site after business hours were curtailed in 2016.
“The support of our community and elected officials has proven to be invaluable in ensuring the future of one of our very favourite restaurant/musical entertainment spots on the island,” wrote protest co-organizer Ky Fox in a letter to the Driftwood.
He also thanked Mark and Terena LeCorre for persevering despite the adverse circumstances.
“You have been an inspirational example of what it means to carry a graceful, respectful and responsible positive attitude in life,” Fox said.