PRRD to consider permitting microbreweries, distilleries

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Tom Summer Local Journalism Initiative, Alaska Highway News
The Local Journalism Initiative (LJI) supports the creation of original civic journalism. Tom Summer works under the Alaska Highway News in Fort St. John. The content that is produced will be made available to media organizations through a Creative Commons license so that Canadians can be better informed.

The Peace River Regional District will consider bylaw amendments this month that would allow craft breweries and distilleries to be built in light industrial zones.

The potential amendments were prompted by a developer who wants to build a distillery and tasting room in Clairmont, west of Fort St. John.

“They’re becoming very popular, and it diversifies your economy. You need to modernize and take a look at what you’re doing,” said PRRD board chair Brad Sperling, noting the amendment is a welcome and necessary update.

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If approved, craft brewery or distillery would be added as a permitted use for light industrial zones in properties in electoral areas C, D, and E.

The Peace region is already home to two microbreweries in Fort St. John, with one planned to open in Dawson Creek. The District of Taylor adopted a bylaw in September 2019 that allows for retail cannabis, distilleries, and microbreweries.

The amendment is to be voted on at the May 28 PRRD board meeting.

Residents with concerns or looking for more information can contact the regional district up until May 27 at 4 p.m. by email, phone, or through its website by clicking here.

Canna-biz update

Meanwhile, the PRRD board tabled May 7 a recommendation to redefine cannabis related businesses in the region, pending further clarification.

The new definition would allow for retail stores on local and general commercial properties. Processing facilities would also be permitted on appropriately zoned agricultural and general industrial property.

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However, retail and processing facilities would be only permitted on properties 200 metres away from schools and daycares, and 100 metres away from parks, places of worship, medical clinics, rehab centres, or another cannabis-related business. Retail businesses are still subject to approval by the province to operate.

Mayor Lori Ackerman said she’s in support of zones for retail cannabis, but has concerns about processing facilities and industrial rezoning.

“If they can go and find one of those zones, you could have some angry neighbours if they just plunk it there,” said Ackerman.

“We did look at what other jurisdictions are doing, they do allow for processing facilities in industrial zones. The direction is for the regional district is to be in line with what other jurisdictions are doing,” said planning consultant Katrin Saxty of Urban Systems.

Email reporter Tom Summer at tsummer@ahnfsj.ca

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