PoCo to have a say on seating boost at breweries

The city of Port Coquitlam will hold a public hearing on Tuesday, Dec. 11 at 6 p.m. to consider doubling the number of tasting room seats, to 50.

Port Coquitlam residents and business owners can give city council their thoughts next week on plans to double the number of tasting room seats in microbreweries.

Tuesday, council will hold a public hearing on a proposal to boost the lounge capacity from 25 to 50 seats; the meeting starts at 6 p.m. at PoCo city hall.

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This week, councillors voted 5-1 to the first and second readings of the zoning bylaw change, with Coun. Darrell Penner opposing (Coun. Steve Darling was absent).

Penner said while he isn’t against a seating increase in craft breweries — PoCo now has two (Northpaw and Taylight) and a hard liquor manufacturer (Provincial Spirits) — he believes there isn’t a fair playing field for pubs and bars, which have to comply with more regulations before they set up in the community.

Penner, who’s on contract as a musician at The Arms Pub, also voiced concern about shared parking around microbreweries and suggested a limit to entertainment and food service that microbrews provide so they aren’t in competition with pubs.

Brewery tasting rooms, Penner argued, are “not for people to stay hours on end.”

Coun. Glenn Pollock, who supported the seating increase, also complained of the extra hoops pub owners have to jump through compared to brewery owners.

“We want to protect our pubs,” he said, adding he doesn’t want PoCo to mirror Brewers Row in Port Moody, where capacity in the lounges is more than 50 each.

Still, the city’s director of planning and development said her department has heard from brewery owners that there’s a demand to up the number of lounge seats, and since the establishments opened this year, there haven’t been any issues.

Laura Lee Richard also told council it would be up to the brewery owners to secure shared parking with neighbours while Jennifer Little, PoCo’s manager of planning services, said brewers are allowed to have a full kitchen under the zoning bylaws.

Councillors Laura Dupont and Nancy McCurrach said they don’t see microbreweries and pubs in competition while Mayor Brad West said he heard on the campaign trail that PoCo residents are unhappy with the city’s current 25-seat lounge restriction.

“There’s strong community support and demand for this,” West said. “I don’t see the parking as an insurmountable obstacle. People are already adapting to the parking… I think [more seating] will be one that’s welcomed in our community.”

Taylight, which is owned by Geordie Anderson, Cameron Taylor and Barry Wright, told The Tri-City News last week that with the 25-seat lounge limit at their Kebet Way business, “we’ve had lineups outside sometimes.

They wrote in an email: “It makes for interesting conversations with customers as they don’t understand the reasonings, especially when we clearly have the space for it.”

• PoCo residents unable to attend Tuesday’s public hearing can email their comments about the seating proposal to corporateoffice@portcoquitlam.ca.

jcleugh@tricitynews.com

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