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Concerns raised about Wolfville brewery development

Karen MacWilliam owns a house near the Church Brewing Co. property in Wolfville. She, along with other residents, recently voiced concerns regarding the project.
Karen MacWilliam owns a house near the Church Brewing Co. property in Wolfville. She, along with other residents, recently voiced concerns regarding the project. - Sara Ericsson

Further public consultation to take place for proposed MPS, LUB amendments

WOLFVILLE, N.S. – A new microbrewery development continues to spark debate in Wolfville as some residents speak out against proposed municipal amendments that would allow the project to grow to a scale that many opposed to the idea feel is too large of an operation for that site.

Residents for and against the proposed zoning changes have continued voicing their respective opinions since the Town of Wolfville held a public participation meeting Dec. 12 to discuss Municipal Planning Strategy (MPS) and Land Use By-law (LUB) amendments affecting Wolfville businesses, including Church Brewing Co., which is located inside the former St. Andrew’s United Church at 329 Main Street.

The new microbrewery and restaurant business also has street frontage at 4 Seaview Street, where some residential neighbours have expressed concerns with its desired brewing capacity.

Karen MacWilliam and Glenn Howe, who own property in the neighbourhood, said despite having voiced their concerns, they feel the town “is not listening.”

Steve Haysom is co-owner of the brewery, and said all he wants for his business is “a reasonable amount of economic prosperity here.”
Steve Haysom is co-owner of the brewery, and said all he wants for his business is “a reasonable amount of economic prosperity here.”

The town initiated the process in October to discuss amending its definition of ‘Accessory Use.’ This term describes a business’ secondary - or accessory - area, for example where Church Brewing Co.’s brewery would operate, to allow off-site sales for it and other businesses in Wolfville.

Town of Wolfville chief administrative officer Erin Beaudin said in an email that the town’s committee of the whole met Jan. 8 to discuss the amendments in question and will meet for a first read-through Jan. 22.

Beaudin said the town will hold another public hearing after this meeting as an “opportunity for comments and feedback directly to council” before a decision is made. No dates are confirmed for these meetings.

MacWilliam said she is among several residents that fear these amendments, if passed, will allow the operation of an industrial brewing business not suited for a residential area.

“I don’t want a beer factory or any kind of brewery next to my house, but I can accept my own bad luck,” said MacWilliam at the Dec. 12 meeting.

“But the word microbrewery is misleading – there’s nothing micro about it.”

Brewery co-owner Steve Haysom also spoke at the meeting and said that the business partners involved with the project were inspired to open a brewery inside a former church and have its name reflect the building’s history as a community hub.

Haysom said the brewery has hired “50 people from the area” and will bring "a reasonable amount of economic prosperity" to the town, but MacWilliam wonders whether the brewery will be micro, or a "beer factory." - Sara Ericsson
Haysom said the brewery has hired “50 people from the area” and will bring "a reasonable amount of economic prosperity" to the town, but MacWilliam wonders whether the brewery will be micro, or a "beer factory." - Sara Ericsson

He said they considered several churches before finding the right fit in Wolfville.

“We looked around and saw so many of our public centres in small towns that are just being torn down – our community halls torn down,” said Haysom.

He said his brewery has hired “50 people from the area” among its now 65-person staff, and the goal is to once again have this church become a hub of the town.

“We want a reasonable amount of economic prosperity here, and we’re committed to doing that and committed to the community,” he said.

If the proposed amendments are passed by council, Beaudin said they will be “sent for provincial review and would be adopted and implemented into [Wolfville’s] existing Municipal Planning Strategy and Land Use By-law.”

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