Prince Rupert – Proposed Small Scale Distillery on its way towards public notification, public hearing


City Council has set forward the process for further review of a business proposal for the Fraser Street area, approving First and Second reading for a Zoning amendment that could allow for the development of a small scale distillery and tasting room by a group of investors known as Port City Spirits in the old U Brew location in the downtown core.

As we noted on Monday, the topic was the subject of an extensive report from the City’s planning staff  (which you can review here) that outlined the nature of the zoning requirement, as well as the findings from the city’s planners towards civic goals and any impact on the Fraser Street neighbourhood.Towards the latter, City Planner Myfannwy Pope observed of how the proposed development would fit into the City’s Official Community Plan and council desires for  redevelopment in the downtown area. the commercial nature of much of the immediate neighbourhood and its previous use as a U Brew facility as part of staff’s recommendation to move the process of the zoning amendment forward.
“This is also aligned with the Official Community Plan, there are currently no small scale facilities of this kind in Prince Rupert, so it offers an opportunity for Economic diversification in the city core which we wish to revitalize. And additionally the success of a craft brewery in Prince Rupert and the success  of several small scale distilleries in other cities across BC suggest that this could be a good economic boost in the community.”

A map from the planning report on the proposed zoning amendment
to allow for a Small Scale distillery for the Fraser Street area

When it comes to any impact on the Fraser Street area, Ms. Pope observed of  the commercial nature of much of the immediate neighbourhood and its previous use as a U Brew facility as part of staff’s recommendation to move the process of amendment forward.
“There is little likelihood of impacts on neighbouring uses, the manufacturing is contained within the building  there are largely service commercial uses nearby; such as a construction company, research laboratory etcetera, so similar uses. Further afield down the street is the college and a dance studio and then across the street is the Friendship House. So we do recommend that the rezoning application go to public notification to hear any concerns from the community.Finally, the building that they obtained used to be U-Brew, so it’s not significantly different from it’s previous use. And so there may be even less likelihood of significant impacts on the area properties”
As for council commentary, Councillor Blair Mirau sought some clarification as to why the rezoning was a site specific request, as opposed to a wider addition to the entire C3 zoning designation.
Ms. Pope advised that the goal was to ensure that the Distillery use was only limited to just that one site and not wherever C3 exists. She outlined other zones where such a venture could be allowed such as the marina district, where seeking any rezoning amendment would not be required.
Councillor Nick Adey also offered some further thought towards Councillor Mira’s question.
“I was just going to add, that I would assume that in a public hearing process, if there was a concern that doing it this way is a away of opening it up for one operation, but closing the door to another. That that objection would come out in form of a comment in the Public Hearing.  Cause I don’t think that’s the intention at all and I think that it would be possible to see it that way”
Councillor Reid Skelton-Morven called on some of his past research into a similar venture to frame some of his comments for Council.
“I think there’s some opportunity in future proofing and just like you had mentioned, I think with production especially high alcohol volume content it’s kind of the equivalent of rocket fuel in explosive levels. And having gone through some of this process in exploring a venture like this myself in the past, looking through some of the requirements especially that they’re not to be within you know x amount of feet  or metres within a residence. So having adjacent uses I think and having this one off case, rather than a blanket of C3 and having that possibility in the future for future councils without the same kind of process to go through especially I think that this kind of closes a lot, not necessarily closes opportunity, but more so is site specific especially cause of the usage and  potential high volume and high flammable materials”
Councillor Cunningham observed how the process would go to Public Hearing and then asked to the scope of the public notification period.
“It’s going to go to public hearing, so we’ll hear from the neighbours, but are the people up on Borden Street going to be informed of this?”
In reply Ms. Pope advised that they would, with the notification area to include everybody within 100 metres of the property in question, which includes the residences above on Borden, she also noted of an area between the two property areas that is designated as parkland which serves as a buffer.
Mr. Cunningham followed up with his thoughts on potential noise concerns.
“My only concern is that if they’re going to have a lounge and things like that noises at night, things like that with residential right above it. It’s been very successful at the Wheelhouse but that’s down in an industrial site and at night it can get a little loud  down there and that. So that would be my only concern, you know a distillery plus a lounge for that, especially with Social Services, but that’s up to the people in the neighbourhood.”
With Council’s approval of the first two readings, the process now moves into that notification stage, with a Public Hearing to be called at a date sometime in the future.

Perry Cook
Author: Perry Cook

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