Compromise helps tennis club win dispute with neighbours

NANAIMO – City passes land use contract amendment that will allow public to use expanded restaurant.

A marathon match between the Westwood Tennis Club and some of its neighbours over an expanded restaurant at the facility has finally ended.

Nanaimo council amended the club’s land use contract Monday, giving the club the go-ahead to allow members of the public to use its newly expanded 54-seat restaurant.

Some neighbours were concerned that expanding and allowing the public to use the restaurant would create increased traffic and noise on the quiet residential street.

Club co-owner Cheryl Miller said the club needed the extra customers to keep the business viable in a challenging economy, adding that with the amendment to the land use contract, the club can get back to its business.

“Now we can move forward and continue to do what we’ve been doing for the past 35 years, which is running a tennis club,” said Miller.

The restaurant was previously restricted to club members.

Earning the amendment didn’t come without compromise. The tennis club made 19 concessions to address neighbours’ concerns, including: installing a sound attenuation fence; limiting the facility to three weddings annually between April 15 and Sept. 15; and closing the patio by 10 p.m.

The city acted as umpire since October, when the issue between the club and neighbours became heated. Al Kenning, city manager, said the disagreement took up “hundred and hundreds” of hours of city staff time.

Operators of the Bethlehem Retreat Centre, located next door to the club, initially opposed the restaurant expansion, but at a public hearing on May 3, Sister Mary Ann Gisler said the retreat could live with the concessions.

“Hopefully everybody is happy,” said Miller. “I guess you can never make everybody happy, but we’ve tried to come up with a workable agreement and most of the neighbourhood seems to feel that what we’ve done is very fair.”

The club has been in its current location since 1978. It has three indoor courts and four outdoor courts for a membership of 200 people and employs 15 people.