The Harris Barn in Delta is booked for weddings almost every weekend right up until the end of the year, but the municipality that operates it says it won't be taking any new bookings for the popular venue.
The barn was given to the Corporation of Delta two years ago, and last June, it was relocated to Hawthorne Grove Park. It opened its doors to community functions, and the wedding bookings started pouring in.
Last week, Delta's council voted unanimously to change the rental criteria, to exclude weddings from taking place in the barn.
Delta's director of parks, recreation and culture Ken Kuntz says there are a number of reasons for the decision.
When the barn was first relocated to Hawthone Grove Park, it was operated by a non-profit organization. The organization started booking weddings, even before the barn was complete, says Kuntz.
"Unfortunately, what they found out is that the wedding business is a pretty onerous task, and it takes a lot of controls, and a lot of effort." says Kuntz.
In November of last year, the organization approached the municipality, asking them to take over operations, which it did.
Kuntz says wedding guests were spilling out of the barn, and into the parking lot and surrounding areas, and neighbours complained about noise and alcohol consumption.
City staff, including bylaw officers, were stationed at events, but Kuntz says the problems still persisted.
"If this was anybody else operating this barn, we would expect better," says Kuntz.
Operating at a loss
It costs $900 to rent the barn as a wedding venue, one of the reasons it was so popular.
"People saw it as a bargain," says Kuntz, but he says after the costs of staffing and cleaning the venue, it ended up costing money to operate.
He says many of the people getting married at the barn didn't even live within Delta.
"With the municipality ultimately paying the costs of this, that's probably not a wise decision financially," says Kuntz.
Kuntz says the intention of the barn was always to showcase Delta's agricultural history.
He says Delta has put in a number of programs during the week like cooking classes and gardening classes for the community.
"Our staff have done a wonderful job of filling it up with lots of community interest programs," he says, and says that's something that will continue.