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How About A Little 'Prize-Fighting' With Your 24 oz Glass of Beer? Vancouver Moves Closer to Permitting On Site Brewery Lounges

Carlos Mendes

(Originally Published June 13, 2013 on my BC Beer Law 1.0 blog)

As reported in Tuesday’s article in BC Business magazine, since counsellor Affleck’s unanimously supported motion directing city staff to harmonize the Zoning Bylaw with the Regulations, local industry representatives held a series of productive meetings with city staff. The result was a policy report prepared by the General Manager or Planning and Development Services (“Report”) that went before council yesterday. 

Further to my post below, the inability of Vancouver’s craft brewers to have on-site brewery lounges lay in the discord between the Regulations and the city’s Zoning Bylaws, and specifically how the Bylaws characterize both liquor licenses and areas with industrial land-use designations. Thankfully, (and largely due to the tireless work of local industry), the city now understands that on-site lounges are not ‘brewpubs’ or ‘bars’, but are a use ancillary to a Manufacturer License. To this end, the Report sets out several highlights of the province’s changes to the Regulations, (which will likely play a role in the final amendments to the Zoning Bylaw). These are as follows:

  • Lounges cannot exceed a floor area of 860 square feet (80 sq metres);
  • All liquor consumed must be produced on-site;
  • Permitted hours for liquor consumption are 9:00 am to 4 am the next day (the city has proposed 9 a.m. to 11 p.m., which local industry has supported);
  • The maximum serving size is 24 oz; and
  • Permitted entertainment includes ‘recorded music, radio, and televised prize-fighting' (what I’ve long thought Parallel 49’s tasting room was lacking - a little televised ‘prize-fighting’).

At this point, and not surprisingly, the Report is short on substantive changes to the Zoning Bylaw, with only two proposed amendments listed.One is the requirement that lounges be in completely enclosed buildings (meaning no patios), and the other is the proposed floor-space ratio of 80 sq metres. Importantly, these changes will apply to all the districts where they city’s newest craft breweries have existing operations or will soon be setting up shop, including ‘I-2’ (Parallel 49), ‘M-2’ (Powell Street), ‘IC-2' (Brassneck) and ‘M-1’ (33 Acres and Main Street).

Once they are ready to go before council, I look forward to reviewing and then discussing the final version of the amendments to the Zoning Bylaw here. I anticipate that they will maintain the spirit of what was discussed with industry, and am hopeful that they’ll also incorporate key elements of the province’s changes to the Regulations (including the various forms of permitted entertainment noted above).

Considering the industry's recent support from Mayor Robertson and his Vision Vancouver council, it's not surprising that city council voted unanimously yesterday to implement the recommendations put forward in the Report. The next step will be public consultation, with hearings likely to happen in the near future.While some industry advocates are predicting push-back from established interests in the hospitality sector at the hearings, with momentum, public opinion and city council on their side, there is optimism amongst the city’s craft brewers that on-site lounges are on their way to Vancouver.

Having a couple pints with your growler fill just got a little closer.