City of North Van fast tracks Shipyards Brewery District

They’re all but tapping the kegs in the City of North Vancouver.

Council voted unanimously Monday night to fast track some rule changes that will make it easier for a host of new breweries to open up lounges in a “brewery district” in Lower Lonsdale.

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One brewery is already up and running and another four are planning to open soon in the light-industrial area along East Esplanade and East First Street. Under the current zoning for the area, breweries or distilleries are allowed to have tasting rooms for customers to sample their products but they are limited to 125 mililitres per serving and 375 millilitres per day – less than half a proper pint.

Getting a lounge licence that would allow more generous servings, however, can take upwards of two years, according to city staff. Instead of processing all five rezonings individually, staff recommended writing the zoning bylaw so accessory lounges are automatically included in the M4 zone. All new liquor licences would still have to be approved by the province’s Liquor and Cannabis Regulation Branch and will require endorsements by the city.

After first considering the proposal in February, council skipped the frothy debate and gave first and second readings to the necessary bylaw changes on Monday and waved the requirement for a public hearing. The change will still require at least one more vote at a future meeting of council.

Outside the meeting, the brewmasters behind House of Funk Brewing, Beere Brewing and Streetcar Brewing toasted council’s heady response.

“Hopefully, if this goes through on April 15, then we’ll be able quickly all get our lounge endorsements and start serving to beer for everybody before the summer,” said Darren Hollett, co-founder of House of Funk.

When they’re all open, the area will be branded the Shipyards Brewery District, a plan set in motion by Streetcar Brewing’s Simon Koldyk and the Lower Lonsdale Business Improvement Association.

“We’re really excited to open and we’re hoping with being able to sell real amounts of beer, … we will be able to have a vibrant beer community down there,” Koldyk said.

Craig Beere, co-founder of Beere Brewing, which is already open on Esplanade, said he is looking forward to having some competition in walking distance.

“There’s a whole transformation of the area. We’re happy to be down there and really look forward to working with the other breweries that are setting up shop. It’s going to be great for everyone in the area,” he said.

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