The Esso gas station and Copperside Foods building at Kalum St. and Davis Ave. could soon become a craft liquor distillery.
Terrace city council considered the proposal at a regular council meeting Sept. 14.
The gas station is nearing the end of its lifespan. The owners are legally required to replace the underground gas tanks within five years, but the owners have indicated they don’t intend to undertake such a costly renovation, said David Block, the City’s director of development services.
Instead, the owners want to lease a portion of the existing building (which is mostly unused by Copperside Foods at this point) to a craft distillery company. The distillery and gas bar would co-exist at the location until the gas station reaches the end of its lifespan, at which point the distillery would take over the location with the convenience store shrinking in size.
The City’s zoning bylaw currently permits craft distilleries on properties zoned as downtown commercial, but not on properties zoned as neighbourhood commercial, which is the zone the gas station falls under. Therefore, the first step in the development process is a site-specific amendment to the City’s zoning bylaw to allow a craft distillery at that location.
Block said City staff recommended granting the site-specific amendment because the gas station property is right at the edge of downtown.
Council discussed a number of potential issues with the proposed craft distillery, such as parking limitations and the building’s proximity to George Little Park where children often play, but ultimately decided to pass first and second readings of the proposed amendment.
Councillor Brian Downie voted against first and second readings, saying there are too many issues with the location.
“My perspective would be that this is not an appropriate use in that location,” he said. “Another location, the co-op property for instance, it would be a completely valid use, but not adjacent to a premiere park in the City of Terrace.”
Councillor Evan Ramsay said he also had some concerns with the proposal, but he voted in favour of first and second readings because that would allow the proposed amendment to be circulated to the public for comment and it would allow for a public hearing. Councillor James Cordeiro agreed, saying that the project deserves to have a public hearing before council addresses any issues with the project.
Now that first and second readings have passed, the City is circulating requests for public comment and will soon announce a date for a public hearing.
If the zoning bylaw amendment passes third reading following a public hearing, the craft distillery will need to apply to B.C.’s Liquor & Cannabis Regulation Branch for licenses to produce and sell liquor, as well as to the City for building and development permits, Block said.