Thursday, May 12, 2022

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

An area of Fraser Street could one day be known as the Distillery District
if a proposed new commercial venture works its way through Council
Approval, starting with a public hearing to come in the weeks ahead

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.

You can review both the report as it was delivered and the commentary of the Council members through the City's Video Archive starting at the eleven minute mark.

More notes from Monday's Council Session can be reviewed through our Council Timeline.

Other items of note from City Council can be examined through our Council Discussion Archive.


  1. It is always great to see that the entrepreneurial spirit is alive and well in our community.

    But please consider the social implications of this venture as well, not just the zoning.

    Prince Rupert per capita already consumes more alcohol than the provincial average and the Potential Years of Life Lost (PYLL) index shows years lost to Alcohol, Drug, and Tobacco use is higher than the provincial average.


  2. A liquor manufacturing license does not include a lounge license….. so the comments about loud noise and events happening within the space aren’t even legally allowed.

    I’m surprised that is mentioned - because that is not part of the endorsement of a manufacturing license…. They are allowed a small tasting room with restricted hours.

    This is not going to be a night club

  3. A manufacturing license for liquor does not include a lounge license

    That will not be part of this project. They are allowed a tasting room with restricted hours….. this is not going to be a night club