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West Vancouver may welcome breweries and distilleries

West Van had the first craft brewery in the country, but it has missed out on the craft beer revolution of the last decade
Jason and Alayne MacIsaac work in the Sheringham Distillery, April 2, 2019. West Vancouver is now considering allowing craft breweries and distilleries. | Adrian Lam, Times Colonist

The District of West Vancouver is opening the door to craft breweries and distilleries.

The possibility for locally made beer, spirits, ciders or wines is part of a cocktail of changes council is ushering through in hopes of stimulating more economic activity and vibrancy in the district.

Most municipalities require breweries and distilleries to operate on lots with light-industrial zoning, of which West Vancouver has none. Under the proposed changes, brewing and distilling would become permitted uses in some commercially zoned lots.

Mayor Mary-Ann Booth said she’s already received an enquiry from an entrepreneur hoping to open a craft brewery in what is today an auto repair garage on Marine Drive at 25th Street.

Other changes in the omnibus package include a rule that limits financial institutions (include currency exchanges), beauty salons and real estate offices to no more than 20 per cent of the ground-level commercial frontage in Ambleside and Dundarave and Royal Avenue in Horseshoe Bay. The rules will also be tweaked to allow businesses that manufacture products on-site, like bakeries, to wholesale to other businesses, which is not currently permitted.

Home-based artist studios will be given the district’s blessing to offer retail sales of their art from home. And the district will allow home-based daycares for up to eight children to operate on residential properties that also have a secondary suite – as long as the operator lives on site.

The vote came at the end of a particularly long council meeting, so council kept their comments short and positive.

“Despite the late hour, it’s very exciting. I feel the energy coming off this report and I feel really good about these changes, all of which we’ve asked staff to work on,” said Coun. Nora Gambioli.

Changes to the zoning bylaw are still subject to a public hearing, scheduled for March 29.

Although West Van is now the only Lower Mainland municipality still missing out on the decade-old craft beer revolution, it was actually home to the first micro-brewery in Canada. Horseshoe Bay Brewing opened in 1982 in the basement of the Troller Pub. It closed in 2000, but the founders went on to start other breweries that still exist today, and their signature Bay Ale recipe is still served at the Troller.