Commercial-scale brewery not good fit for Southlands

Editor:

Delta council has given first and second readings to plan and bylaw amendments required to allow three freestanding buildings in Southlands Village. The buildings will house a brewery, distillery and winery. These facilities will comprise more than half of the 80,000 square feet of village space under the original plan.

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That space was originally set aside for small, ground floor retail shops and services, with two floors of residential space above. The commercial component was clearly envisaged to serve primarily neighbourhood needs. Permitted uses included artist’s studio, beauty and barber shops, meat market, daycare, bakery and the like.

Four Winds Brewery is to occupy the largest of the three buildings. It will have a height of 51 feet. That’s substantially higher than previously allowed. It will have a 200-seat restaurant as well as the brewing facilities.

Make no mistake, this is not a “brew pub” that produces beer consumed only on the premises. It is a commercial-scale brewery, relocated from the industrial area of Tilbury to the residential area of Southlands. The occupants of the distillery and winery have not been disclosed to date.

City staff maintain these industrial operations further the “Southlands vision,” in particular the “farm to plate experience.” Four Winds hopes to harvest its hops and grain for its brewery from Southlands fields. That’s the “vision” part. I disagree with city staff.

I located close to 70 craft brewing operations in the Lower Mainland. I used Google Maps Satellite view to scout their locations. None, to my knowledge, are in the middle of a residential neighbourhood. A few are located on, or very near, busy through traffic arteries in, but near the margins of, industrial or busy commercial areas, with some housing within a few hundred metres. But these are exceptions and a small minority. As far as I can determine, all breweries in Delta are on industrial land on Annacis Island or in Tilbury, including Four Winds.

There are good reasons commercial-scale food and beverage processing plants are located in industrial, or heavy commercial, areas, including traffic, odour and noise. I see no reason to depart from that practice in the case of Southlands.

It is far removed from any other commercial facilities, much less industrial plants. Lots of things happen between “farm and plate.” Not all are savory or suitably sited in a residential neighbourhood.

Also, cannibalizing over half the space originally set aside for residential units above small local retail outlets in favour of free-standing industrial buildings is not defensible in these times of acute need for new housing. These residential units, above small retail outlets, would surely be among the most affordable of all the new housing in Southlands. Trading bedrooms for beer makes no sense to me.

I welcome the arrival of a fine new restaurant to Tsawwassen in general and Southlands in particular. I am a satisfied Four Winds customer.

But don’t let the beautiful artist’s renderings of the restaurant beguile you. This proposal sites three industrial operations squarely within a quiet, family-oriented neighbourhood. There is no real precedent in the Lower Mainland.

It displaces much-needed affordable housing slated for the mixed-use commercial area of Southlands Village. It’s not my vision. Is it yours?

A public hearing is scheduled for Feb. 26. I hope those for and against will make their voices heard.

Paul Lowry

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