Summerhill
An artist rendering depicts a six-storey, 'Culinary College for Humanity', left, proposed for Summerhill Pyramid Winery in Kelowna. City councillors endorsed the project on Monday but final approval is up to the provincial Agricultural Land Commission.

If Kelowna winery owner Stephen Cipes' dream of creating a 'Culinary College for Humanity' is to become a reality, his next step is making his pitch directly to city council.

Council deferred a decision Monday on whether to register their support for the ambitious proposal saying it was important to hear from Cipes himself, rather than only rely on submitted documents.

While council expressed some support for the idea of the culinary college - which plans show as a six-storey building filled with classrooms and residential suites - there were also misgivings about its overall size and proposed location on farmland within the Agricultural Land Reserve.

Coun. Charlie Hodge, who suggested the matter be deferred, said he was generally supportive of the proposed culinary college, saying it was typical of the "out-of-the-box" thinking for which he said Cipes was known.

But Hodge said council would benefit by being able to quiz Cipes in person about project details before deciding whether to endorse his application for permission from the provincial Agricultural Land Commission.

"I feel we'll be doing a better service by having (Cipes) come to us first, so we can ask some questions, and then send it forward to the ALC," Hodge said

"To me, we should hear from the applicant," agreed Coun. Luke Stack, who nevertheless added he thought the college was "too large for where it's located".

Mayor Colin Basran was the only council member to vote against deferral. Basran said he thought it was a good project that council should have immediately endorsed with no further discussion.

"I think this would be a tremendous benefit to agriculture long-term. Agriculture, culinary, tourism, are the hallmarks of this valley and so I am very supportive of this," Basran said.

"I appreciate council's concerns about the form of the building but we can control that in the next phase," Basran said, referring to the normal municipal development processes that would apply should the ALC approve the project as a suitable land use of agricultural properties.

In his letter to the city, Cipes said the culinary college, which he anticipated would draw visitors from around the world, would be constructed on top of an existing Summerhill building. As a result, he said, not a "single square foot of arable land" would be lost with its construction.

It's expected Cipes will address council next Monday.