Brewery in the works for city’s downtown core

Three young aspiring entrepreneurs are working to bring a craft brewery to the city, and at the same time play a role in the city’s attempt to revitalize downtown.

Darrin Finnerty, Matthew Fox and Laura Gosnell are the eager, energetic faces behind Beach Fire Brewing – not only a place to quench your thirst but a gathering place for all ages.

“We want to provide a social environment for everyone to enjoy,” Fox said during a presentation to city council Monday night. “It appeals to multiple demographics – it appeals to the younger crowd and the mature crowd.”

Fox said while the brewery will serve high quality crafted beer, there will also be non-alcoholic drinks on the menu. The brewery will be paired with a restaurant specializing in tapas, to encourage engagement among patrons. Fox said Beach Fire Brewing will be a ‘third place’; a concept applied historically to places such as post offices, barber shops, and taverns – places where people congregate other than work or home. He added that the brewery would operate from noon to 9 p.m.

“We’re not looking to have a rowdy crowd so if you want to continue to party, you’ll have to move on,” Fox explained. “We’re looking to gentrify the area we move into and bring more traffic and activity and bring an identity to the neighbourhood.”

Beach Fire Brewing is proposed to set up shop on 11th Avenue, near Cypress Street and the new Healthyway building across from the Community Centre.

On Monday, council approved first and second reading of a re-zoning which will go to a public hearing.

Chris Osborne, the city’s senior planner, said the craft brewery would be a boon to the area.

“This type of activity is very well suited to downtown and, subject to reasonable management, is capable of making a significant contribution towards the OCP’s (official community plan) vision and objectives for downtown,” Osborne said. “It does not seem that the (brewing) process would be particularly noisy or carried out during nighttime hours.”

Osborne added that staff approached bylaw enforcement officers in both Courtenay and Cumberland, which have similar facilities, to confirm that the potential for nuisance is low.

“Neither has any record of complaints relating to noise, odours or other nuisance arising from the beer brewing process at those premises,” Osborne said.

Gosnell said the philosophy is simply to provide quality-crafted beer, outstanding service and food to the community.

“The brewery will fill the untapped market for locally crafted beer in Campbell River, and capitalize on the expanding market for local beer and food on the west coast,” she said.

Fox, meanwhile, said with Beach Fire they’re hoping to create 15 new jobs and help bring a vibrancy and culture to the area. Coun. Colleen Evans said she was thrilled to see the concept come forward.

“What a joy to see the passion (from) each of you,” Evans said. “I love your brand, I love your business model; I just think it’s a great concept to help revitalize downtown.”