Since it was built in 1952, there’s always been a bee keeping business in the building at the corner of Oxford Street and James Street in Kemptville. Over time, the area around it grew with houses popping up where there was once only farmland. Needless to say, the look of the neighbourhood would be radically different now from the one that the original builder would have seen 65 years ago.

The building is currently owned by Kemptville resident Peter Vichos, who grew up in Kemptville, bought the building from his father, Steve, in 2010 after renting it for the previous seventeen years. The senior Vichos originally bought the building from his former boss back in 1970, meaning that the building has been in the family for almost 50 years.

The local operation has grown significantly over the past 24 years, to become the largest honey producer in Eastern Ontario, with over 1,200 hives scattered around the South Ottawa, North Grenville, and Dundas County region. Known for its quality, Vichos’ honey has been enjoyed around the world in countries like Germany, the UK, South Korea, and all over North America. The company plans to re-launch their own line of local retail honey products soon after dealing with a trademark issue that had forced them to consider a name change.

Recently, the business made the decision to remove 120 large 55-gallon barrels that are currently stored outside the building, due to a complaint from the public. When an attempt was made to get a permit to expand the building in order to store the barrels inside, it was denied by the municipality. This forced the business to rent additional property to store the barrels. Extra insulation and special light shades were purchased and installed to resolve both a noise and a light complaint brought to their attention by the municipality. An employee of the Municipal Planning Department set up a site visit to assess the property and operation.

Peter was advised that the municipality would need to consult with residents living in the area before proceeding. After a follow-up meeting at the North Grenville Municipal Centre, it was stated that the permit would not happen this year. This was a blow to the business, which felt it couldn’t wait another year, plus any additional time that would be part of the building process. So, the decision was made to begin the honey extraction at the building, as it had been done for the previous 64 years.

Peter Vichos was advised by the Planning Department that he would need to submit a site plan drawing. He agreed, and was told that it didn’t need to be drawn by an architect, but would need to be detailed, and that the Planning Department would wait for it to be sent in. On September 11, however, a registered letter was received which was an ‘Order to Comply’, and stated that the four trailers outside the building (that the business has used for storage for the past 25 years) had to be removed by September 30. Working sixteen-hour days, and needing the trailers to remain exactly where they were to avoid disrupting the extraction process, Peter was unable to comply. On October 10, bylaw services appeared to deliver a summons to appear in court on November 16.

Peter hoped that the two parties could come to a compromise, and he was waiting to hear back from the municipality about another meeting to discuss the situation before the court date. It’s frustrating that this local agri-food business has had such a difficult time, when they were just trying to be a good corporate citizen by resolving a complaint they received. Unfortunately, nothing ever seems to be simple for small business owners. It would be shameful to see a local agri-food business forced to leave or, worse, shut down, when we claim that we want more of them to move here. This affects, not only Peter himself, but also the three seasonal employees he hires from March to November. Surely this red tape can be untangled?

43 COMMENTS

  1. Regarding the “Local Honey business”
    I had no idea the building housed a business, let a lone an established successful local business. What a great story with a lot of local history. I personally think they should be left alone, make a concession or “grandfather” the operation into the “official plan”. The Economic development team couldn’t even dream of enticing or luring a business like this into the core. The municipality is going to jump all over him due to a few concerns from residents that came after the operation and the local family. The municipality should be helping not hindering and harassing the Vichos.

    I would LOVE to get a tour of the facility and operation

    • right on I was borne here 75 years ago and I knew what was going on and I drove to Sask to pick up honey with Vic M Leave It Alone

    • What do you mean grandfather in!!! This business was there before any housing development plus it is private property which the only person/s that have a say are the owners of the property!!! What next some resident complains about the colour of your car, front door. Be very careful what you wish for this is how socialism/communism starts. Certain people take away the rights of all!!!

  2. I fully agree, someone who bought a house near this business didn’t do their homework! It really sounds like someone likes their job too much! Why is this not grandfathered like the pits in our area? I always wondered what business was here it always looked quite there. Too bad the township can’t help him instead of trying to put him out work!

  3. For a municipality that wants to encourage small and medium business to the area, what are they thinking?!? We have a small business that wants to improve his property and not only does he get denied, he gets a summons to court instead?

    I’ve lived a block away from this business for years and had no idea what kind of business it was either. Although there were storage barrels and trailers, the property is always well kept and I’ve never witnessed it looking neglected or like an eyesore.

  4. I agree they should GrandFather this family business as a local business that has successfully operated in kemptville for many years!

  5. Why can’t people just mind their business anymore!
    The reason so few knew what was there is because they never bothered anyone. I lived directly across from it for 6yrs and didn’t know until 3yrs after what they did. The production process they have has little impact to the surrounding residents. Whomever raised this issue is just stirring the pot. Shame on them!!!

  6. I have lived in Kemptville my whole life and never knew what this building was used for. They should work on their advertising and definitely reach out and sell their product at local businesses. I love buying local products and so do many others. I hope things work out. I also agree with the previous comment about touring the facility. I’m sure people would be interested in seeing and learning about the process.

  7. The more complaining and grumbling from people who have nothing better to do than meddle with this historical company….will result in tradition being lost= no more honey. Leave the bees and their keepers alone!

  8. I live right near there. They are super quite and never bother anyone. The staff are friendly and wave at the kids when the ‘honey truck’ drives by. They let us tobbogon on the hill… A local tradition. Sometimes the air is filled with the scent of honey. How delightful is that? Let them bee.

  9. I grew up down the street….we used to call it the ‘honey hill.’
    The article doesn’t provide a reason for any of the decisions about why these actions were taken. Not waiting for the plan, or working wit the business owner. The discussion and decision should be provided to the people of North Grenville so they can understand why their representatives have created such a difficult situation.
    I am hopeful that the ‘spirit’ of supporting a long time local business success story can over come the Marley-like chains of bureaucracy.

  10. Hmmmm kinda reminds me of the city folk that bought near a farm then started complaining about the noise, the smell etc. That honey business has been there far longer than most the houses in the surrounding area. No matter what the people or Township think it should be “grandfathered” and whoever complained should either go back where they came from or withdraw their complaint and the Township should back-off.

  11. For transparency,a list of the complainants should be made public.
    I have a feeling that the Municiplity is acting on behalf of development interests and rather than openly trying to expropriate, the Municipality is trying to tie up Mr Vichos in so much red tape that he has no choice but to move his wonderful business.
    The Municipality should be helping this Business thrive in it’s present location and offer financial assistance in upgrading it’s facility.
    I think there are other undisclosed reasons the Municipality is giving this Business a had time.

  12. Ok let me try to understand this. A local successful business that has been there before the homes built around it, and they have to accommodate the surroundings. I assume they pay taxes that support the town. Why is it a small few can make it so difficult for others. Leave a local, successful business alone.

  13. I’ve bought honey from Vichos several times it’s a real treat
    But I’ve seen this sort of thing before this we’re someone from the city decide they would like to move a small town for some country living and then like to change some of the bylaws and sometimes they are successful as time goes by they decide country living is not for them and move back to the city in the mean time we get stuck with the laws they changed
    Shame on these people who are complaining
    The town should be cogradulating the Vichos and affor there support instead of serving them with court orders

  14. The Honey Hill… many many children that grew up in Kemptville tobogganed at the Honey Hill, including mine. It has NEVER been an eye sore or an annoyance in that neighborhood until now? What is the reasoning behind all this? Let’s try to keep our small town feel even if we are trying to run it like the ‘City’. There are good things that come with updating process and procedures in any organization, but not at the cost of doing away with what made it special and individual.

  15. This is hogwash….the business has been there for years, before the houses where built. People moving there moved there with the business the way it always was.
    North Grenville Municipality should not even have a say…because 1its agriculture and 2 its been there, (grandfather clause) 3 people need to mind there own business and worry about their own yards.
    Municipality trying to act important. Hogwash. To much red tape. Leave the business alone to focus on business. Not stress him out over stupid peoples complaining. Maddening.

  16. Once again our Municipality is embarrassing themselves, they just don’t get it! Always going on about helping and promoting small business and then they turn around and do this type of ****.
    Peter is a good guy and has always kept the property clean and tidy and respectful of his neighbors. The fact that so few even knew what type of business is there shows how little impact it has on the neighborhood.
    Deron, if there is any way of getting an online petition going that we could sign and get to the municipality, or whatever, then they might realize what a good majority of the residents feel regarding situations like this.

  17. Sad, very sad. Do we have a bylaw that says you are “entitled” not to see 45 galllon drums that were there when you bought a neighbouring house? From what I’m hearing, the business is quiet and clean. Yes, a barn is unusual inside a town, but it was there first. Perhaps a simple fence would hide those drums, or let them expand the building to keep the drums inside. If it means so much to the municipality to appease a minority, perhaps the municipality can pay to move it where it won’t affect anyone.

  18. A business with a barn in the middle of town. Isn’t there a huge one in Ottawa?
    Someone sees steel barrels and possibly assumes there is some kind of toxic contents just sitting around.
    How about we help build a fence instead of insisting they remove their equipment necessary to run the well substantiated business.
    Conversation not confrontation is needed here. Shame on the Municipality.
    Oh and isn’t this the Mayor’s neighborhood?

  19. If they paint it all with ‘hipster’ ‘barn style’ branding, maybe the new residents will see this wonderful business in a different light. (I hate people)

  20. The municipality should help the owner and accommodate instead of this bullying I am new in the area and had no idea what was going on in thos buildings or even what kind of business it was. The municipality should put some money and signage to show the new people how great this little town is and how successful a business can 🐝!

  21. They should look into if he can get some sort of protection for being a beekeeper. The state of the honeybees is all over the news lately. If he has established hives can he not get designation as a sanctuary? Not sure what the rules are but it’s worth looking into??

  22. What is this world coming too.We are losing bees by the millions,actually need them and the local government is trying to close it down with their red tape.What is wrong with this picture??

  23. I agree with Liz’s comment, honey bee’s are in danger, so lets take this further, go to the news reporters and get this aired. That will put a huge stop to this bull crap, and may just get this business the help it needs. I am sure they can get some help being that they are honey bee keepers and produce honey in that building. I think the town should help him out and maybe get a nice big sign with his business logo on it etc. This is also a landmark, and a historical building. And as far as the people who did the complaining, this building was there when you bought or built your homes, and that did not stop you then so why now is it a problem? Really if it is such a problem sell your homes and move back to where you came from, besides you obviously have nothing better going on in your life so you are stirring up crap when there is no need. Leave this business and owner alone and get your life together, just cause your not happy does not mean you have to make others unhappy. I would sign a petition if you’s can get one up and going. I live in Cornwall and if this was next door to me I would love it, and leave them alone but also would be buying honey from them. I wish them luck and hope all works out for them, but contact the news and get this aired I really believe this would help out in his favor.

  24. I have lived in Kemptville my whole life and my family and I have always called it the Honey Hill. I have lived within one block of this business for almost 20 years. I walk past the Honey Hill almost everyday and I have to say Peter keeps his property nicer than some properties in town. I know of some places that get complaints regularly and nothing happens. I think the municipal government should explain to the public how a business that has been in this location for decades is now facing all this grief based on one complaint. Questions that should be answered are whether there have been other complaints in the past and if so how many and when. Our elected officials talk about attracting new business to this area, why bother if they can’t accommodate the few we have.

  25. I agree with everyone’s thought’s on this. It’s a shame that all it takes is 1 sole complaint – probably a newbie city slicker too no doubt to start the ball rolling – to ruin and possibly end a long time and much needed business. I hope the good folks of Kemptville and surrounding areas stand up and unite for this family and business and let their municipality/town pencil pushers know that they are not budging.

  26. Is it not funny that most towns and or municipalities would love to have businesses set up shop in their zone, but instead, we have an arrogant town that wishes the opposite. This family, business, and property deserves better treatment.

  27. Shame on whomever started this ruckus.
    I’ve been to this neighborhood many times over the past 15 plus years. This is a local business with a long history. I for one have enjoyed their honey. Just as I enjoy popping into Grahames Bakery.
    I don’t know all of the details. However, I do think our tax dollars could be spent more appropriately vs taking a long time local company to court.
    I support and stand with the honey!

  28. Reading this article brings me back to recall an issue that happened as my husband and I walked past this business in our daily walks in the community. About a month ago three women in a small vehicle were stopped at the stop sign at James St as we approached the corner. A middle aged women rolled down her window and asked us if we were not concerned about walking so close to the bee business with the bees around. We responded that we walk by regularly and it’s never been an issue. We never really noticed the presence of bees and had never been bitten. In fact, we didn’t know for the past year what type of business it was. She told us her daughter was considering moving in close by and was wondering if the bees would be a problem. We told her we didn’t think it would be a concern as we continued our walk. Maybe it was a concern for them….so don’t move in!
    I agree with the string of comments supporting this local business that’s been here longer than the neighbouring homes have! What a shame that the municipality is not supporting a local business that has been in operation for a few generations.

  29. This man has tried to do everything to comply, what a shame to see this business go and put people out of work.
    Comon people help this business man out, and keep the honey business growing.

  30. I think it is time to remind our famous council that they dont work for a few they work for us all . There is too much bullying tactics going on with government today . This council has embarrassed us and the community long enough . Elections are not far off , maybe a new council will start working for the betterment of all not just a few .

  31. Sounds like the business owner likely made an enemy in the township, and that enemy(ies) just happen to know some developers who want to pay said township to tear this place down and cram in some more ugly new housing. Its politics. Its sad. NG went in the wrong direction here, and with enabling Kemptville to be the next Kemptvaven and tossing its small town values out the window. If you want Barrhaven, move there. Havnt the developers made enough money? Cant they go somwhere else, and put in some affordable housing and better traffic infrastructure while theyre at it. Leave the small businesses alone.

  32. We no longer live in Kemptville, but until 1989 we were neighbours of Steve and Kathy. They had a beehive in their home that just fascinated our kids (The bees travelled in and out of the hive by way of a tube through the window sill.) We were lucky enough to get to see the centrifuge in the barn and watch Steve extract the honey. Our kids slid on the Honey Hill in the winter. I think this business and it’s heritage building is one of the things that make Kemptville a special place. I hope town council comes to it’s senses. I hope citizens of Kemptville continue to speak up and support Peter and his business. Where do I sign the petition?

  33. It is significant to me that the complainant has not posted his/hers/it’s point of view so we can all see what their concern. So this an appeal for them to do so…it’s not sufficient to talk the talk …be courageous and walk the walk….I dare you? Then perhaps a dialogue can occur and this can be resolved in an adult way.

  34. It is significant to me that the complainant has not posted his/hers/it’s point of view so we can all see their concern. So this an appeal for them to do so…it’s not sufficient to talk the talk …be courageous and walk the walk….I dare you? Then perhaps a dialogue can occur and this can be resolved in an adult way.
    Reply

  35. Come to your senses, Kemptville Officials, listen to your majority of residents…keep our businesses and our history. Other small centres are dying, due to lack of business. NYMBs are selfish!
    ms

  36. Oh dear municipality of mine! You say you are supportive then you harass small businesses. Shame on you. Let the man run his business.

  37. I grew up in the house directly below the honey factory shown in the NGT photo, my parents living there for 60 years, and knew the Vichos family and their bee business all our lives. What an important and reputable business that has survived and grown in these years of small business demise. The honey hill as it was known was a play area for all neighbouring children many years ago and still is. The municipality and residents should be in total support of Peter’s business and location. In all the years living right beside the factory there was never an incident with the honey business located there – why now is there an issue? Peter there are many of us behind you all the way.

  38. Totally agree! Leave them alone and grandfather the business in. What’s next? Wood smoke from Grahame’s Bakery bothering the new residents? Better shut them down too. So sad when small town government gets too self important.

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