Dennis Bruneau with his son in law

Dennis Bruneau with his son in law

What is Sun Lodge Farms?

Dennis Bruneau envisions a working farm. A for-profit social enterprise, through which there will be food production, livestock, and more.

Trisha Shanks

Arrow Lakes News

The property at 2781 Highway 23 boasts 472 acres and a tall, lone tree on the plain visible from the Hot Springs Road. Formerly the old Coates farm, it has recently undergone a change in ownership and has been renamed Sun Lodge Farms. The Bruneau family purchased it in October 2014 with a lofty vision to create a new community.

Dennis Bruneau envisions a working farm. A for-profit social enterprise, through which there will be food production, livestock, and much more.

“We want to attract young agrarians to farm the land, create a community of people who are 50-plus, and to use some of the land for events.”

His plan is three-fold: farming, housing and an event venue. He intends to develop the land to include a multi-residential dwelling for special needs adults. He explained that he has friends and family who are the parents of dependent adult children with special needs who, in the past, might have been institutionalized when their parents were no longer able to care for them. Bruneau has been researching creative housing opportunities and saw plenty of possibilities that seemed much better to him than a nursing home. But not all of the residents will be intellectually or physically challenged. He also sees housing for adults over fifty years of age who want to live off the land and desire to be in community.

“It is win-win. Nakusp is shrinking. We want to bring people here,” Bruneau’s son in law, Cameron Gordon said. Gordon grew up in Nakusp and graduated from NSS in 1982. He met his now-wife, Bruneau’s daughter Sherry Gordon as a teenager. Though the Gordons currently live in Calgary, they plan to retire here and are working to make the dreams of Sun Lodge Farms a reality.

Bruneau and Gordon have already begun the work toward creating a venue for others to use. They will be renting out portions of the property as a way to raise the capital to create their vision for Sun Lodge Farms. Being for-profit and not government dependent means that the organization must generate an income. The acreage boasts many flat sections that could be developed to host weddings, company retreats, family reunions and festivals. Renting out the space is the first of many ventures that will be based on the property. Eventually they will offer full-service event planning to go with the venue rental.

The group would like to see a large-scale event held during every season, from a harvest festival to a winter carnival, to a music event in the springtime and something else in the summertime. They see this as a way to stimulate the local economy, boost tourism and bring more young people to the area with the hopes of attracting them to return or even relocate.

 

“We are missing that important 18-35 demographic in Nakusp,” Gordon said. “This seemed like a good way to bring them in and let the place speak for itself. There is nowhere more beautiful.”