La Pêche council votes down Bluebarn permit
Owner 'baffled' by decision
There won’t be any lattés sipped on Bluebarn’s terrace anytime soon. In a 5-3 vote on Nov. 2, La Pêche council voted down a resolution to grant Bluebarn the permits it had been seeking to launch their café operation out of the old Wakefield fire hall and begin the process of applying for a provincial liquor license.
The resolution, written and submitted by Wakefield area Ward 6 councillor Claude Giroux, would have authorized Bluebarn to use parking space at the Wakefield Community Centre, reduced the river-protection boundary to a five-metre encroachment rather than prescribed 15 metres, and allowed for the use of the terrace Alary had built in the front of the building, reducing the encroachment from the property line from 10 metres to one.
On Oct. 27, Luc Alary, the owner of the café, was finally approved for his business license, for five indoor tables and five parking spots — fewer than the 18 of each that Alary initially applied for back in July. This meant that most of the parking lot and the entirety of Bluebarn’s terrace at 20 Chemin-de-la-Vallée-de-Wakefieldwould still be unusable under the license.
The resolution also considered that the municipality’s current urban planning regulations regarding setbacks – specifically the 15-metre river protection boundary and the 10-metre property line encroachment from the road – are not being applied to other existing businesses in the immediate area (for example Kaffé 1870 and Fauxmagerie Ma Petite Cuisine). If applied to the letter, it would force a number of village businesses to overhaul their facilities, which would result in significant expenses.
After council voted down the resolution, Alary told The Low Down that he felt “baffled” by what had happened, saying that he had been informed that the resolution would be submitted, but had not been privy to what was in it.
“We’re still hoping to find a way to deal with this issue with the municipality that will allow us to have the capacity we need to support our business,” Alary said. He added that his business would need to consider all of its options, and acquiring a minor variance to continue running his business in Wakefield being only one of many.
“I understand the councillors’ opinions that I can’t ‘skip the line,’ but do they really understand how long the line has actually been?” he said, referring to the several months he had to wait to hear back from the urbanism department regarding his initial application for a business license — a response time that the La Pêche Mayor Guillaume Lamoureux told The Low Down was inadequate. The department is required to respond within two weeks to applications.
The next day, on Nov. 3, Lamoureux responded to The Low Down’s request for comment with a cryptic update: despite the vote, council had managed to find consensus on a solution to Bluebarn’s issues after the meeting.
“In accordance with the repeated sentiments shared at last night's meeting, council is united in their desire to resolve the issues this file presents,” Lamoureux wrote in an email to The Low Down. “Later this week, council will meet with the appropriate municipal staff for a technical briefing on this file [and] I am hopeful that we will be able to bring this file to a close in the coming days.”
In other council news:
Council approved the allocation of $100,000 to a reserve fund that could be used to maintain and repair the Internet fibre cables the municipality owns. The money allocated could then be used to speed up the extension of Internet coverage in La Pêche by Internet service providers by renting access to this existing network and available fibres; as well as funding future projects that lack provincial or federal grants.
The resolution also recognized Pablo Sanchez, the creator of the Facebook group La Pêche high-speed Internet, for his expertise and as an invaluable asset to the pursuit of these goals.
Council also approved the 2020-21 Transcollines budget, of which the municipality of La Pêche's share is $209,788.
Finally, council approved a call for tender from Ray A. Thompson Trucking Ltée for $23,450, plus taxes, to demolish the buildings located at 99 and 101 Route Principale Est in Masham. The municipality purchased the land in August 2020 for the purposes of building a new city hall.