Future of Vancouver Brewing Debated at City Hall

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Vancouver Craft Beer

Campaign for Real Ale Vancouver Chapter President Paddy Treavor recently met up with NPA Councillor George Affleck at Vancouver City Hall to discuss the fact that Vancouver City Council is denying the applications of many local breweries to open ‘beer lounges’ despite the provincial government green-lighting them.

Many Vancouver craft-brewers are in a Catch 22 situation, the City will generally only allow them to be built in industrial-zoned areas, but will automatically deny any beer-lounge applications for industrial-zoned areas.

A second layer of red-tape from the city demands that they also apply for a liquor primary licence – which is notoriously difficult to get at the best of times and costs a huge amount of money. This demand from the city is actually not a provincial requirement; the recent changes in the B.C. law state that the Beer Lounge Licence is just an endorsement-extension on the breweries’ existing manufacturing licence.

This is a typical example of the No Fun City Council making it as difficult as possible for craft-breweries in Vancouver, while at the same time paying lip-service to supporting the craft-beer community. It’s also forcing new breweries out of the city where other municipalities are very welcoming to this growing craft-industry which brings in jobs and tourism.

Mr. Affleck has tabled a motion to be debated and voted on next week (Tuesday 23 or Wednesday 24, April) that takes a big step forward, he’s asking the licensing and zoning departments to find out what’s needed to fix the problems:

“Current City of Vancouver regulations do not allow for brewery and distillery operations to offer customers samples and purchasing options. I’m asking staff to come back to Council with recommendations on how we can change that,” says Affleck.

If the motion passes then soon he’ll be able to table a second motion to fix the problems using the recommendations.

Mayor Gregor Robertson quickly took to Twitter in support of the motion. “I expect city staff to report to Council in May with new brewery lounge regulations,” he posted on his official account, which is encouraging – although are more regulations what’s really needed?

“On-site beer lounges could really open up Vancouver for smaller nano-style breweries to open up and sell their beer directly to consumers from the actual point of production. This in turn could be a boon for local consumers and beer tourists alike, giving Vancouver the opportunity to become something of a Portland North,” said Paddy Treavor.

With Vancouver currently going through a craft beer boom, it would be wise for the city to get rid of some of the red tape. While they’re at it, the City of Vancouver should do the same for clubs, lounges, restaurants and patios!

Photo Credit: Skye Chilton

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