The City of Lacombe will soon be the home of a microbrewery.
Now, after clearing several hurdles, Blindman Brewing will be setting up shop in an industrial area of Lacombe.
City councillors approved final reading to amend a bylaw to consider allowing microbreweries the ability to host ancillary activities, like retail sales and liquor consumption, in light industrial and heavy industrial districts of the City at their regular council meeting on March 23rd.
A microbrewery is a facility where beverages of a low alcoholic content are produced and packaged.
The facility may include distribution, retail or wholesale on or off the premises, and in the case of Blindman Brewing, the applicants for the Lacombe facility, a tasting room where people can sample the locally-produced beer.
The building Blindman Brewing is considering boasts 4,000 sq. ft. which they plan to devote 75% of the space to manufacturing. The remainder of space will be set aside for ancillary retail and hospitality uses like off-sale liquor, selling merchandise, liquor tasting and a small tap room where sales of pints would be offered to patrons during business hours.
“This is vital to the success of our business,” said Blindman Brewing co-owner Hans Doef of the ancillary uses. The applicants had recently received approval from the City for an amendment to a bylaw to allow microbreweries as a discretionary use in commercial districts of the City in February.
The company wished to set up shop in an industrial area (zoned I1 or I2) to suit their needs, so they had to reapply before council to receive approval.
Council Chambers were again packed and two citizens spoke in support of the application during the public hearing.
Director of Planning and Operations Matthew Goudy said in a perfect world, a commercial zone would be the perfect fit for such a business, but Lacombe did not have such a space to offer. As such, administration could not support the bylaw but offered a second option for council to consider — amend the existing regulations to consider the ancillary uses but limit the overall floor space for retail uses.
After the public hearing concluded, council debated the application and considered the options.
“We want people to know that we are open for business,” said Councillor Wayne Rempel, who was in favour of the application. “We want to do whatever we can to encourage people.”
Councillor Peter Bouwsema was also in support of the bylaw, with the second option proposed to council. “Even though we are changing some of the uses, if they are considered to be auxiliary to the main use of the microbrewery, then I would be in support of that,” he said.
Councillor Wayne Armishaw stated he was in support of the bylaw with the amendment, as the business had found as good of a location in the I2 district that was available that suited their needs.
Councillors Reuben Konnik and Grant Harder were also in full support of the amendment. Council granted second and third reading of the bylaw, permitting the use of ancillary uses by a microbrewery, but with a limitation on floor space to 500 sq. ft.
The application must also be approved by the Municipal Planning Commission.