British Columbia

World's tallest gnome gets a permanent home in Saanich, B.C., but there's a catch

They said he was too tall. But Saanich council has decided Howard the Gnome can keep his home — and approved a variance permit allowing the smiling behemoth to stand at Galey Farms.

Council approves height permit for 8 metre-high Howard, but he'll only be on display for part of the year

Howard was declared the tallest garden gnome by the Guiness Book of World Records in 2009. (Bridget Matewish / Facebook)

They said he was too tall.

But Saanich council has decided Howard the Gnome can keep his home — and approved a height variance permit that allows the smiling behemoth to stand at Galey Farms.

Howard stands 7.91 metres tall — which was 40.64 centimetres or 16 inches too tall for the District of Saanich's regulations — until Monday night's council decision.

The owner of Galey Farms, where Howard has been staying since his adoption in March, couldn't be happier.

"You could not get the smile off my face," said Rob Galey, owner of Galey Farms. "I think I slept with it on all last night."

The catch

But Howard is taking up agricultural land, and that means he won't be a permanent installation for families to enjoy year-round.

The Agricultural Land Commission said the gnome is only permitted to stand at the farm for 90 days a year.

Rob Galey shows off the top of Howard's hat and the 40.64 centimetres or 16 inches of extra height that was an issue. (Rob Galey/Galey Farms)

At the moment, Howard is in the midst of getting a makeover and will be ready for Halloween and pumpkin-patch season.

"It will make it special," said Saanich Coun. Colin Plant. "This would be the best time."

Galey Farm is a family attraction and working farm that features several theme areas, including dinosaurs, a Western town and an Addams Family graveyard.

Big plans

Howard is being airbrushed by hand to bring back his colour. He's been given new lips and new eyelashes will be applied Wednesday.

And unlike his previous incarnation, he will have the ability to wave and blink.

But given he's such a behemoth, isn't there the possibility he'll scare the daylights out of a few kids?

"Him standing there waving and blinking his eyes with big long eyelashes, who's going to be scared of him?" said Galey.

Howard's history

The gnome was built by Ron Hale in 1998 to promote his family's amusement park, which was called Gnome Man's Land.

But Howard has been teetering on the edge of destruction. His previous owners at a Nanoose Bay, B.C., gas station said in March that he was in disrepair and they would need to tear him down if he didn't find a new home.

That's when Galey Farms quickly stepped up and offered to take in the homeless colossus.

The new and improved Howard will be on display starting Oct. 5.

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