Full house shows support for new craft brewery

Beer enthusiasts packed a public hearing Monday night in support of a new craft brewery for Campbell River.

People filled the City Hall council chambers to capacity to show support for allowing craft brewery as an acceptable use for the brewery’s proposed site on 11th Avenue and for all commercial properties throughout the city.

Trevor Despins, who works for Investor’s Group which will become neighbours with Beach Fire Brewing and Nosh House, said he’s eager to take advantage of what is intended to be a welcoming place that encourages social interaction.

“We believe Beach Fire will attract people to the downtown and provide a social venue that complements venues like the Community hall, Spirit Square and the Tidemark,” Despins told council at Monday’s public hearing. “It will provide a unique and refreshing alternative for dinner and social interaction.”

Despins said he believes Beach Fire will attract people from out of town who make craft breweries a target destination.

He said there’s already a buzz around town.

“Several times a week over the past couple of months, someone has asked me if I’ve heard of the new brewery opening in town and they’re very excited,” Despins said. “I look forward to their opening because I fully intend to make Beach Fire Brewing and Nosh House my third place.”

The craft brewery is the brainchild of young, local entrepreneurs Darrin Finnerty, Matthew Fox and Laura Gosnell. It’s intended to be a ‘third place’ – a concept applied historically to post offices, barber shops and taverns; places where people congregate other than work or home.

Their vision is for a gathering place where everyone is welcome, where quality craft beer flows and tapas are plentiful, to encourage engagement among patrons, rather than a sit down meal.

“We love getting together with our friends and we love a place where everyone knows our name,” Fox said, in explaining the concept to city council. “We’re looking to join the city in revitalizing downtown and we’re interested in bringing activity downtown.”

Fox said the trio are also looking to create 15 new jobs in the community, including kitchen positions, serving and management jobs.

Heather Gordon Murphy, who was representing the Downtown Business Improvement Association (BIA) at Monday’s public hearing, said the creation of more local jobs is just one of the reasons the BIA is in full support of the brewery. She said beyond that, the brewery also fills vacant space downtown and is a selling feature to people considering moving to Campbell River.

“It is a great addition to downtown, offering a place to gather as a community,” Gordon Murphy added. “It will enhance the already good downtown food options and will retain people in the downtown area after work and after events, especially in the evenings.”

Laurel Sliskovic, president of the Young Professionals of Campbell River, said her group is also strongly in support of Fox, Finnerty and Gosnell’s vision.

“This brewery shows entrepreneurial initiative in a creative and community-minded way,” Sliskovic said. “Downtown revitalization in the form of a craft brewery and nosh house by locally owned and operated people is something many of our members are excited about.”