Co-owner Matt Hill draws a glass of ale at the Mount Arrowsmith Brewing Company tap room. The business is applying for a lounge endorsement to its current manufacturing licence. — J.R. Rardon photo

Craft brewery gets backing for lounge license

Parksville council gives thumbs-up to Mount Arrowsmith Brewing application

Parksville’s newest craft brewery may soon become its newest pub.

Mount Arrowsmith Brewing Co., a 20-hectalitre manufacturing facility at 425 Stanford Pl., has applied to the Liquor Licence Control Branch for a lounge endorsement to its current manufacturing licence. Parksville council voted to support the licence request during its regular meeting Monday (May 15).

“This is a craft brewery, which is a sector of the liquor industry which is growing by leaps and bounds,” said Coun. Kim Burden. “These types of businesses are good for business in general in the community. They bring people to the community as part of the tourism sector; it’s part of a number of other economic sectors that will benefit from this.”

Mount Arrowsmith Brewing opened its doors April 8, under a manufacturing licence that permits a tap room allowed to serve a single 12-oz. beer or a tasting flight of three-ounce samples of its four ale varieties per customer per visit.

The lounge licence would allow the brewery to use its tap room like a traditional bar or pub, with customers able to purchase additional drinks. Council’s support will be attached to Mount Arrowsmith Brewery’s application to the Liquor Licence Control Branch.

Blaine Russell, the city’s director of community planning, noted the local owners of the business submitted the application on April 7 — one day before opening under its existing manufacturing licence — and completed requirements of providing public notice of the application and an appropriate public comment period.

Russell said the city received six responses from the public, three supporting the lounge endorsement and three opposing it. One of those submissions in opposition included a petition with 24 signatories, but, he added, the proponents turned in their own petition with 603 names of people in favour.

“Given that the volume of the corresepondence we got seems to strongly outweigh the opposition to it, I think it’s something that should be welcomed in this town,” said Coun. Kirk Oates. “I applaud the proponent doing something I’ve heard an awful lot of people say they want to have in this town, and I look forward to it being successful.”

Coun. Leanne Salter raised the lone objection to the request for endorsement, based on the potential for noise complaints from residences adjacent to the brewery, which is located in an area zoned light industrial.

“I have an issue with how this city responds to noise complaints, because we don’t,” said Salter, noting she has collected a number of reports from residents who made noise complaints — unrelated to the brewing operation — but who have received no response from bylaw control. “I can’t support it because I know we won’t do anything when people are being kept up all night.”

Four of the owners of the family business were in chambers. Salter noting the 45-person capacity of the business and the applicant’s request for approval to serve from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m., asked co-owner Pat Hill whether the owners would consider amending the hours it is requesting

“We put down the maximum hours because if we come back again to change them, it is another application,” said Hill. “Certainly we’d prefer to keep the application at 10 to 10, because we don’t want to have to come back and submit another application and do the additional expense.”

Hill noted the current hours for the tap room are 11:30 a.m. to 7:30 p.m. Sun.-Thurs. and 11:30 a.m. to 9:30 p.m Fridays and Saturdays, and “We do not anticipate a change in our hours.”

He also said the 45-person capacity was based on what the fire marshall permitted, and the more likely business capacity will max out at about 25 people.

“We have 16 seats (in the tap room),” said Hill. “We’re not talking about 45 people.”

Even Salter said her concern was not directed specifically to the brewery — “I think it’s a neat idea,” she said — but rather to the city’s lack of responsiveness to noise complaints where residential areas butt up against commercial properties.

Oates said his review of the public response against the lounge endorsement did not uncover concerns specific to potential noise complaints.

“I think that generally the community is in support of it except for one group, and they don’t want it there at all,” said Oates. “The letter we received from the group doesn’t speak to alternative hours; just that it’s not acceptable, and that a lounge in the area is not suitable.”

Oates and the rest of council took a different view, approving support of the licence endorsement in a 5-1 vote, with Salter opposed.

“I think this is a great thing for our community,” said Burden. “I know some people are opposed to this, but I’m also seeing a significant number of people who support this.”