A proposal for an artisan craft distillery in Roberts Creek is one step closer to being approved after the SCRD board gave second reading on July 13 to a bylaw zoning amendment to support it.
The proposal for a small craft distillery and tasting room on Porter Road has already been before the Roberts Creek Advisory Planning Commission and was the subject of a public meeting on June 8. The SCRD has so far received 25 written submissions from area residents, with 18 in support and seven either opposed or expressing concerns.
In introducing second reading of the bylaw, Senior Planner Yuli Siao, said: “While there are a number of issues raised, there is support for this type of small scale business that can integrate well into the rural landscape and help to strengthen the local economy and sustain the unique lifestyle of the coast.”
The applicant, Jeff Barringer, presented his plans at the public meeting. They include gardens, an apiary, livestock, and a vineyard. Barringer noted that all ingredients in the whisky, gin and liqueurs produced will be from BC, and he will buy fruit on the coast.
Craft distillers can sell their products through retailers and restaurants or directly to the public via their own website and at farmer’s markets, so Barringer anticipates getting only about 15 per cent of his sales through the tasting room, which would be open on weekends.
Issues raised by neighbours, as summarized in a staff report to the SCRD Planning Committee, included traffic congestion on Porter Road, which is narrow, unpaved road maintained by the residents of surrounding properties. In response, the applicants propose to create a pull-out area near their entrance for vehicles to pass, and add eleven parking places on their property.
Replying to questions from attendees at the public meeting, Barringer said that he had no plans for a food truck, music, or large gatherings and events. He was also asked what he intended to do about bear control, as well as: “Do neighbours get free tastings?”
SCRD Area D Director, Mark Lebbell, moved the second reading of the bylaw, noting that he felt that issues raised by community members had been largely addressed. The proposal will now go to a public hearing, and then return to the board for third reading.
The SCRD rejected a similar craft distillery proposal in Area F earlier this year, but that property was in the Agricultural Land Reserve (ALR) and did not meet ALR rules for “non farm use”.