The craft beer and spirits industry continues to expand in Langley.
On Monday night (May 7), Township council unanimously endorsed an application from Kealys Canada Inc. to open a new distillery and brewery lounge at 20381 62 Ave.
Kealys is planning to operate a brewery and distillery manufacturing centre on the site, along with a store and a 50-person lounge that can serve liquor from 9 a.m. to 1 a.m. seven days a week.
Although this application falls under provincial jurisdiction, Township council has has the ability to endorse (or not endorse) brewery and distillery lounges.
Coun. Bob Long asked about the location, and if businesses like Kealy’s will always be restricted to industrial and manufacturing areas.
“It seems to me it’s hidden in a remote location, which is what’s required, apparently, under our zoning bylaws, but I wonder if these things shouldn’t be more out in the public where it’s better accessible — maybe parking is better, a bit more commercial,” Long said.
“I think the way things are going with craft breweries and so forth, is they want to get out of the industrial centres and get onto the main streets.”
Township senior manager Ramin Seifi said that changes to the zoning bylaw are not currently being contemplated by staff.
Two people from the audience then spoke out and said they wanted to make public submissions. Mayor Jack Froese explained that the liquor licensing hearing was closed, and that when he asked for speakers, no one came forward. With the support of council, the residents were granted the opportunity to speak.
The first speaker, Brenda Mickelby, said she owns three units in the development area, and has concerns with adequate parking, and with homeless people who sometimes cause issues at night.
”It just doesn’t seem feasible to me that that’s the right area for … a lounge to be put in,” she said. “The distillery part of it I totally understand, and yeah it’s manufacturing, and we were made aware of that some time ago. But we were not made aware that there would be a lounge.”
The next speaker, Kim Lewang, also owns commercial property in that area, and shared similar concerns, particularly with security surrounding the lounge.
In response, the proponent, Mason Kealy, said that parking shouldn’t be a problem, as their lounge will likely operate between noon and 10 p.m.
“At that time, parking is very open in the area,” Kealy said. “There’s very few people who are working their day jobs taking the parking, so I don’t think there will be a conflict with parking, so I’m not overly worried about that.”
Kealy noted that the distilled spirits will be stored according to provincial procedures, and the site will be fully certified by the BC Fire Commissioner. The lounge capacity of 50 people also matches the occupancy given to nearby Trading Post Brewing at 20120 64 Ave., he said.
“A lot of the time it’s people that are coming in and getting stuff and leaving,” Kealy said. “So the occupancy, yes, that’s the maximum that we have, but we’re not going to be having big, giant parties in there all the time. I don’t think that the occupancy maximum is going to be reached, and even if it is, most of the time the maximum is probably going to be later in the evening, maybe 8 or 9 o clock where, once again, the parking is going to be relevantly vacant.”
Kealy agreed that there are homeless people in the area, but assured council he has proper alarm and security systems, properly trained staff, and restricted access to the manufacturing area.