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Powell River city council supports outdoor expansion for brewery

Vote allows Townsite Brewing to apply for seating in front of building
Townsite Brewing in Powell River
Townsite Brewing in Powell River. Peak archive photo

Townsite Brewing has received support from City of Powell River to expand its service area to the outdoors.

At the June 24 council meeting, councillors voted in favour of two recommendations that will allow the business to apply for outdoor seating in front of the brewery.

In the first recommendation, council voted to provide a development variance permit that would relax the required front setback from 1.8 metres to zero metres, and reduce the required number of off-street parking spaces to three at 5834 Ash Avenue.

According to a staff report, considering COVID-19 and provincial health officer orders, the Liquor and Cannabis Regulation Branch (LCRB) issued a policy directive that authorizes licensed establishments to temporarily expand service area footprints until October 31, 2020. The report states the expanded service area is intended to allow patrons to still access the business while complying with physical distancing requirements. The policy directive is not intended to allow for increased occupancy.

As part of this program, Townsite Brewing is seeking council’s support in relaxing front setback requirements to accommodate an outdoor seating area on the subject property, facing Ash Avenue.

The staff report indicates the applicant’s proposal to build an enclosed area with benches at the front of the building requires a reduction on the front setback.

Councillor Rob Southcott said the recommendation was the request of Townsite Brewing for sidewalk seating. He said to allow the brewing company to do that was accommodating the original design of the Townsite, which was not designed for cars.

He said the brewery has provided four times the spaces for bicycles. He said this encourages active transportation.

“I am wholeheartedly in support of this,” said Southcott.

The second recommendation was that the director of planning services be delegated the authority to provide written confirmation to the LCRB that the city has no objection to the proposed temporary expanded service area of 18 outside patio seats at Townsite Brewery.

Senior planner Daniella Fergusson said the initiative was to permit a temporary patio under the province’s program.

The proposal is for five cedar-topped bar top and bench seats, and under COVID-19 distancing restrictions, three of them would be available. She said the seating was not intended to increase Townsite Brewing’s occupancy load. Under provincial health officer distancing requirements, there would be 12 outdoor seats in the patio area.

If physical distancing requirements are relaxed before the program’s expiration in October, the outdoor seating area would be able to accommodate 18 patrons.

According to a staff report, Townsite Brewing’s approved capacity is 45 persons. The report states that the intent of the provincial program is to help businesses meet provincial health officer orders regarding physical distancing.