Permitting issues leave Beaver Creek bakery facing closure

The owner of a bakery on the Alaska Highway is considering a lawsuit after his bakery was denied an operating permit because water filtration regulations.

Olivier Le Diuzet says he's considering lawsuit after operating permit denied

The Le Diuzets bought Pine Valley Bakery and Lodge in 2009, but a need for a new water filtration system - with no guarantee that they'll pass inspection after it's installed - has them looking at staying closed for another year. (Submitted by Olivier Le Diuzet)

The owners of a bakery near Beaver Creek, Yukon, are hoping they can take advantage of the additional business brought in by the summer tourist season, but a two-year bureaucratic battle has left them without a permit to re-open.

"The next step is maybe to go to court," says Oliver Le Diuzet.

Six years ago, Olivier and Mylène Le Diuzet bought an old lodge near Beaver Creek, fixed it up, and opened Pine Valley Bakery and Lodge. They had water tests done, passed inspections, and were given permission to operate.

In 2012, Mylène was in a car accident. Then they had a generator problem and had to buy a new generator and a new car. The expenses piled up and they weren't able to open the bakery that year or in 2013. 

In 2014, when they went to renew their permit, an initial inspection found that everything was fine. Officials ordered the usual water testing and it showed no contamination. Despite clean water, the bakers were later told they need to install a UV water filtration system that could cost up to $10,000, but the Le Diuzets says even if they do, there's no guarantee that they'll get their permit.

Yukon's Chief Medical Officer of Health says the closure is not a matter of bureaucracy, but safety.

"Even though the well has been tested and found free of coliforms [bacteria] at a particular moment that doesn't remove ... a risk of contamination of that water," said Dr. Brendan Hanley. 

Olivier Le Diuzet wants to know why they weren't made aware of changes to the water regulations at the time of the initial inspection. 

"In 2014, nothing [at the bakery] is different," he said. "In 2014, the guy said 'No, you don't get the permit.'"

Kate White, an MLA who represents the opposition NDP, says the situation is complex. 

"It appears there's been changes in the regulation since they originally applied in 2010," she says. "And they've gotten caught up in the fact that the business was closed for a year... and then when they re-applied, there were new regulations in place."

White says there should be a government loan program available for small business owners, similar to the rural water well program, which provides funding for Yukon residents to access and develop water wells.

Le Diuzet says it's unlikely that the issue will be resolved in time for Pine Valley Bakery and Lodge to open during this summer season.