Sandra and Eric MacEachern pose in the backyard of their Belair Avenue home

Pub plans leave family flustered

Bad timing and the march of progress leave Langford family feeling isolated from their neighbourhood

A plan to eventually create the West Shore’s first brew pub sparked an eleventh hour appeal from a Langford family that says the development will leave it cut off from its neighbourhood.

The MacEachern family, represented by Eric and Sandra and their 19-year-old daughter Emily, expressed their concerns at a public hearing in Langford city hall on May 22. The meeting is the second-to-last step of a process to rezone several lots owned by the Loghouse Pub.

The MacEacherns say they’re worried about the loss of privacy as well as a potential hit to the value of their Belair Road home, which overlooks the pub’s current parking lot.

However, the development fits with Langford’s Official Community Plan and council was quick to allow it to move along.

The MacEacherns were upset enough by the development plans to gather a petition, which they presented to council. But what really seemed to anger the family was when two large trees were felled on the day of the public hearing, giving the impression that the development was going ahead even before official approval.

“I think the unfortunate thing was, when I dropped the trees, they came down on the day of the public hearing,” said Longhouse Pub owner Ron Cheeke, who also owns the residential property next door to the MacEacherns.

An apologetic Cheeke said a mix-up led to the arborist cutting down the trees on that day. But once he started, it made little sense to stop before finishing the job.

Cheeke plans on using the back half of his Belair Avenue property as pub parking while fixing up the rental home that currently resides on the front of the lot. Cheeke’s application also includes three lots on Millstream Avenue and would rezone all the properties from residential to neighbourhood mixed use.

At the public hearing, acting mayor Denise Blackwell pointed out the optics of having an arborist cut down two trees on the subject property that morning. Still, Blackwell said Langford has few regulations to keep anyone from clearing trees on their land.

The MacEachern family say they should have been given better notice before the trees were taken down.  “The trees they chopped down were 10 to 12 feet from my door,” Eric MacEachern said, resigned to the fact he has little recourse at this point. “The thing with Langford – I’m getting this now after having dealt with council – there’s a deliberate ambiguity in terms of tree removal. If it’s on your property, have at it.”

The pub was already there when the MacEacherns bought their home in 1991.

However, the family says in recent years it’s gone from a relatively quiet neighbourhood pub to a busier and louder drinking establishment.

“We are the residents who will be the most severely affected by this,” Eric MacEachern said, noting that the rezoning creates a separation between them and the other residential homes on their street. “It divides us from our neighbourhood.”

In a letter to council, Emily MacEachern said there are an average of 1.4 complaints to police about the pub per week, according to the RCMP.

She says the only way to stop people in the parking lot from seeing into her home is to keep the blinds and curtains drawn on all their windows.

Her father, visually impaired since 2001, says he’s not sure what can be done other than rezoning his land to match his neighbour.

The family has no plans to move away from the noise and smells that come with living next to a pub.

“I’ve just accepted it as part of living beside the establishment,” he said.

The rezoning will become official once the developer shows council that he has satisfied a standard list of requirements.

Cheeke hopes to break ground this September, eventually converting half of his existing beer store into the first brew pub on the West Shore and turning the other half into a coffee shop that he’ll lease out to another operator.

“We live by the rules and we play by the rules,” Cheeke said, adding he plans on putting up a fence between the properties once he builds a new 10,000 square-foot liquor store.

“We have a great pub and we try to be a good neighbour.”