Retreat expansion halted on Laxton Avenue

Council denied the rezoning and would not support forwarding a non-farm use application to the ALC

Mission council has put a stop to expansion plans at Mountain Falls Retreat on Laxton Avenue.

Mayor Ted Adlem said the business could be an asset to Mission but neither he nor any councillors could look past how the owners of the property tried to build and add structures on the property without the proper permits.

The existing home accommodates a three-bedroom bed and breakfast, and the additional buildings were granted permits for “personal use” since zoning doesn’t allow the property to host special events.

The applicant and property owner, Steve Kaldis, had hoped to transform his property, which is in the Agricultural Land Reserve, to also hold weddings, business socials and other special events. In order to proceed with those plans, he needed a zoning change to allow such use in the area, and approval from the Agricultural Land Commission. (A report to council states two stop-work orders were issued in the past two years and, currently, a large tent is the only outstanding structure on the site without a permit.)

Council denied the rezoning and would not support forwarding a non-farm use application to the ALC.

Recently, council has supported two applications sent to the ALC — one to subdivide ALR land and another to host a concert on ALR property — but Adlem says both of these groups tried to follow the rules.

“I can’t go to the ALC and say forgive this person for not following the rules,” said Adlem of Mountain Falls.

Kaldis and his business manager Maria Silva say they plan to meet with mayor and council to discuss their situation and are hopeful Monday night’s decision will not be the final one.

Kaldis said he delegated many of the tasks to a former employee and neglected to check the work. Silva joined the Mountain Falls team this past January to try to get the business back on track.

“I’ve learned an expensive lesson,” Kaldis said. “But at the same time, I totally respect where the mayor is coming from. We need to build a relationship with council and, most importantly, with the community.”

Silva said their philosophy is to embrace their ALR status and promote farming as a major part of the business, while offering a quiet getaway and celebration site.