Round 2 for Port Coquitlam's liquor rules

New rules around microbreweries in Port Coquitlam will go through another round of committee debate at city hall.

New rules around microbreweries in Port Coquitlam will go through another round of committee debate at city hall.

Last month, the city's smart growth committee recommended the liquor policy and regulation review be fast-tracked to get local craft beer brewing sooner.

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That move, however, was stalled by council to gauge public feedback.

And, this week, after hearing a report from city staff about the input, council returned the policy to committee for further tweaking.

Laura Lee Richard, PoCo's director of development services, said the city received 233 survey responses, most of them supporting microbrews with tasting rooms. However, several respondents — including from neighbourhood pub representatives in the city — are asking to:

• cap the total number of tasting room seats at 25;

• limit the size of outdoor patios to 10 sq. m.;

• and reduce the hours of operation.

Some respondents also voiced concern about clustering craft breweries (such as Brewery Row along Murray Street in Port Moody) while others suggested the city only allow one brewery per industrial building.

(The city is recommending craft brews be located in general industrial and light industrial zones).

Richard said council may want to take on a more "PoCo-centric" approach to setting up craft breweries — one that's different from neighbouring jurisdictions. "It's going to take us a long time to get all the nuances right," she said of the review.

Still, Mayor Greg Moore said he likes the proliferation of microbrews and suggested Dominion Triangle — where there is a residential/commercial mix and, therefore, within walking distance — would be a better option than an industrial site.

Clustering, he contended, provides "lots of synergy… Port Moody is a success. An auto-oriented destination to me just doesn't work. It's not going to create a buzz."

But councillors Glenn Pollock and Dean Washington said council needs to protect established pubs. They want to prevent competition by restricting the number of tasting room seats to 25 and beefing up enforcement around microbrews.

However, Coun. Brad West, chair of the city's smart growth committee, which is expected to discuss the liquor review at its May 25 meeting, said he doesn't want the city to be uninviting. Too many rules could deter potential brewers from coming to PoCo, he said.

"Twenty-five [seats] is not a lot of people," he said, adding, "For now, it feels like we are not at our sweet spot [for the policy]."

The city policy changes are a result of the provincial government's revised Liquor Policy Review in 2013 that called for more flexibility for businesses to serve booze.

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