Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Vancouver Approves On-Site Lounges in Breweries - Provincial Red Tape May Delay Openings For Several Months

Last night the City of Vancouver took a huge step forward in modernizing their liquor policies by unanimously approving zoning changes to allow breweries, distilleries and wineries to have small, licensed lounges on-site where they can sell their products to be consumed. 

The by-law changes removes the roadblocks (read here) in Vancouver that were preventing breweries from taking advantage of a recent provincial liquor policy changes allowing breweries and distilleries to apply for endorsements to their manufacturing licenses to run on-site, licensed lounges giving them equal footing with wineries who have had this opportunity for years.

As of today, breweries can apply to the Liquor Control and Licensing Branch for their lounge and special event endorsements (see link above)| with the knowledge that they have clear sailing as far as Vancouver City Council is concerned.

That is the good news which has the local craft beer industry and craft beers consumers hoisting a jar of their favourite local brew in celebration.

The bad news is that according to a LCLB spokesperson, "(t)he application process for a designated lounge is similar to the application process for a bar or pub, in that it requires a resolution from local government and the gathering of views from the public.  A general estimate is 7 – 12 months from the time we receive a complete application."

Before we get all up in arms about the proposed 7-12 month wait, it was clear last night that  Mayor Gregor Robertson and Vancouver City Council are totally on board with these lounges and want to see them open ASAP, so there should not be any resistance in the process at the municipal level. But the application (see here) is a seven-page monster which outlines several steps that must be completed with reviews, inspections, more reviews, more get the idea.

But for now, we rejoice!

It has been just over two months since NPA Councillor George Affleck met with yours truly (read here) and decided to put a motion together requesting City staff to look into what changes need to be made to allow brewery lounges to exist. In political time, two months is a blink of the eye to get such changes made and Mayor Gregor acknowledged this by thanking Clr Affleck for tabling the motion, Vancouver City city staff for their quick work in putting together the recommendations, the local craft brewers for working so amicably with the City to come to an agreement in regards to restrictions and Vancouver City Council for moving so quickly and to get things done.

Heck, he even thank me for bringing the issue to the attention of Clr Affleck and City Council.

Maybe I didn't have to move to Powell River after all?? 

Stay tuned for a full report about the Public hearing, reactions, restrictions etc...I have to hit the road right now to embark on a two-ferry journey with my wife and three-year-old to head home... I think I am going to need one of these beer lounges by the end of the day!

As a final word, thanks to all who made this happen: George Affleck, Mayor Robertson, Vancouver City Council, local Vancouver brewery folks who work together as a group and with City Hall, Barley Mowat who helped rally the troops, CAMRA Vancouver for getting word out support was needed and to all the craft beer lovers who took the time to write City Council and/or come out to the public hearing.

A job well done!!!

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