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Crafting a new identity: Burnaby seeks to overcome regulatory hurdles for brewery haven

A Burnaby city councillor wants to encourage breweries, wine bars, cideries and distilleries to set up shop in town.
A Burnaby city councillor wants the city to have its own brewery row — and space for other artisanal drink makers. Photo Peter Cade/Stone/Getty Images.

Burnaby doesn’t have a brewery row like its neighbours Port Moody and North Vancouver — and that’s a problem, according to one city councillor.

To fix it, Coun. Daniel Tetrault wants to make it easier for brewers to set up shop in town.

He put the gears in motion on June 5 at a council meeting, directing staff to review ways to encourage craft and artisanal small businesses to come to Burnaby.

Tetrault said brewery districts build complete communities by bringing people together to socialize.

“While doing that, it attracts restaurants, bakeries, and other small businesses — not to mention, it creates an art scene, contributes to the vibrancy of our communities,” he said.

Tetrault noted Burnaby’s three breweries are often over-capacity, showing demand exists.

He said current city bylaws “may be outdated.”

“I know too many people, particularly young people, when they’re going out to socialize … whether on the patio or another outdoor space, they’re leaving Burnaby,” Tetrault said and added, “We want them to come together in our neighbourhoods and stay in Burnaby.”

He noted the motion isn’t just for breweries — it includes any craft artisanal manufacturers like cideries, wine bars or distilleries.

The City of Burnaby is already considering “creative employment uses” in the upcoming Edmonds and Royal Oak community plans, which would create space for places like art studios, galleries and small-batch manufacturers.

Ed Kozak, the city’s general manager of planning and development said brewery rows in neighbouring municipalities, particularly Port Moody’s, developed “somewhat organically” but largely because of the removal of “regulatory obstacles.”

“Burnaby has a lot of regulatory obstacles at the moment,” Kozak told council.

“And it makes it very difficult for small businesses of all kinds, whether it be distilleries, breweries, you know, tea houses, anything of that nature, that are impacted by zoning — and largely, zoning.”

Kozak said staff would check in with the community and council for what’s important to regulate “and get out of the way of the rest.”

“If there’s an interest for a brewery row or something similar to occur, we get out of the way and let it happen.”

Coun. Joe Keithley (of punk band D.O.A. fame) suggested staff consider how to incorporate a music or performance aspect in a potential brewery row, similar to Austin, Texas.

Tetrault’s motion passed unanimously, and staff will report back to council on the potential for a brewery district at a later date.

Burnaby currently has three breweries throughout the city: Dageraad Brewing (114-3191 Thunderbird Cres.), Studio Brewing (5792 Beresford St.) and Steamworks (3845 Williams St.).

Port Moody’s Brewers Row has six breweries on one stretch of Murray Street.

📢 SOUND OFF: What do you think of a brewery row in Burnaby? What kinds of new businesses would you like to see? Do you think breweries and other artisanal drink makers would create an identity for the city? Share your thoughts — send us a letter.