Mount Begbie Brewery is eyeing a location in Johnson Heights for the location of its proposed expanded operation.
Council gave approval for city staff to move forward on an application from the brewery to re-zone a property on Oak Drive in Johnson Heights to allow for the construction of an expanded production facility.
“We haven’t finalized our plans yet,” Tracy Larson, who runs the brewery with her husband Bart, told the Times Review. “We’re looking at between 12,000 and 15,000 square feet.”
This is the second proposed location to go the City of Revelstoke; a plan to build an expanded brewery next to the Railway Museum fell through after it was determined problems with the property would make construction costs prohibitive.
That now has the brewery proposing a re-zoning of the property at 2155 Oak Drive, below the Hillcrest Hotel.
“It’s unfortunate, the move out of downtown. We’re very sad and not wanting to do it but our alternatives were few and far between,” said Larson. “We didn’t have any other land opportunities that were suitable for us, that were affordable, suitable for building on, large enough, readily available, etcetera.”
Mount Begbie Brewery has begun the process by seeking a re-zoning to allow for a micro-brewery with a 15,000 hectolitre per year capacity to built on the property, which is currently zoned highway commercial.
Mount Begbie Brewery has just about reached its capacity for about 6,000 hectolitres per year at its current location, said Larson.
They are also looking to expand their brewery tour offerings, which are currently offered only twice a week so they don’t interfere with production.
“That’s a part of our business we’d like to expand and we can’t do so in this area,” said Larson.
The proposed location stretches from Oak Drive almost to Townley Street. The brewery would be located at the southern end of the property and most of the site would remain unused.
Larson said they hope to begin construction in the fall of 2015.
“It’s going to be a busy year for us,” she said. “The move will be very interesting.”
The current zoning bylaw was written in the 1980s when microbreweries were far less common, so it doesn’t recognize that kind of development, Dean Strachan, the city’s manager of development services, told council at its Dec. 23 meeting, so the re-zoning is necessary.
He said the location wasn’t ideal because it will remove a tourist attraction from downtown, but that there were few locations in the city that would allow for the brewery expansion.
“There is a desire to have those types of uses in the downtown, however drawing people off the highway to stop at any point for an attraction is a positive because there is a filtering effect of those people coming to the community,” said Strachan.