Saanich council approves height exception for world's tallest gnome
Howard the gnome was dismantled in preparation for his big move to Galey Farms in Saanich Thurs., May 9, 2019. (CTV Vancouver Island)
Saanich council unanimously approved a height exception for the district's newest attraction, Howard the Gnome.
Howard is the Guinness World Records-certified world's tallest gnome and stands an impressive 7.9 metres tall, or roughly 26 feet.
His record-setting stature, however, became an obstacle for Saanich's Galey Farms as the municipality has a 7.5-metre height restriction for agri-tourism attractions.
Once Galey Farms became aware of the issue, its owners filed a formal request for a development variance permit that would excuse Howard's half-metre of excessive height.
When the request came before council Monday evening, multiple councillors and Mayor Fred Haynes threw their support behind the application, citing community benefits and a relatively small request as reasons to approve it.
"It's time that we stood tall on issues like this and certainly bringing the gnome into Saanich helps us stand tall," joked Haynes. "Of course, it's about supporting our local farmers and a wonderful family but it's also about putting a smile on many children's faces and just raising the profile on the wonder of Saanich."
Howard the Gnome was first constructed in 1998 off the Island Highway in Nanoose Bay.
He was built to attract customers to a family amusement park that used to operate in the area. Twenty-one years later, after falling into disrepair, the property's new owners told the gnome's original makers that it would be torn down due to safety concerns if it was not moved.
Galey Farms was one of many properties that offered to move the gnome, and was eventually chosen as its new home back in May.
The farm is now hard at work repairing Howard and is outfitting him with some much needed upgrades, including electronic eyes, a robot arm that can wave to guests and LED lights.
"Nobody has said anything bad about Howard," farm owner Rob Galey told CTV News back in August. "Thanks for everybody that's given all their support."
Howard is expected to be installed on the property in October. As per agricultural tourism regulations, he will only stand on the farm during the busy fall harvest season for three weeks each year.
"Everybody's going to love to see him now that he's all fresh and finally taken care of," said Galey.