As a response to public outreach by the Stanley Park Advocates, a concerned citizens’ group challenging a “brewpub” proposed by Stanley Park Brewing (owned by global giant Anheuser Busch), the Vancouver Park Board issued a media release yesterday (Jan 16).
We provide that Park Board text further below, but precede that with a fresh news release by the Stanley Park Advocates, which has been tracking this issue for a couple years now. See our previous post on this topic (Citizens fight Council approval for Anheuser-Busch (Stanley Park Brewing) brew pub in Stanley Park (Wed 17-Jan-2018)).
One first observation by Stanley Park Advocates when reading the Park Board’s press release is that the Park Board appears to have abruptly changed the wording when they refer to the application in just the past few days. Previously, the proposal was always referred to officially as a “brewpub” (in fact, the official agenda item for Council is “8901 Stanley Park Drive – Stanley Park Brewpub – Liquor Primary Licence and Outdoor Patio Application”). But for the new Park Board press release it has suddenly become a “Restaurant.” The citizens told CityHallWatch: “It is exactly from the first line that one starts to have to do research and is unable to trust what they are saying.” The group has identified many other details where the Park Board is being loose with the facts. “We would much rather they just state their case openly and honestly and address public concerns directly,” they say.
Stanley Park Advocates
January 16, 2018
After a failed process and inadequate consultation, City Council is poised to approve Anheuser-Busch’s manufacturing facility that contradicts traditional Park zoning. The Park Board has modified their news release two days before they go to City Hall for approval to build this controversial Anheuser-Busch brewery in the world-cherished Stanley Park.
Up until this time, the related marketing material has promoted the added brewery to a long-established restaurant location. They are now downplaying the brewery aspect of their venture with the emphasis of a restaurant. This exact ‘marketing’ behaviour has the public concerned.
“Just tell the truth and be accountable to citizens by holding a public meeting so questions can be answered. Why isn’t the Park Board following their Public Engagement Standards? Why are they so reluctant to hold a basic public meeting for everyone?” says Val Lemaitre, a resident of the West End neighbourhood.
Changes in building and purpose
The Park Board indicates that there will be no change to the building footprint, yet their submitted plans show an expanded patio and patio capacity more than tripling near the at-risk heron breeding colony. The Park Board indicates this will activate this public space. It will also offer retail off-sales of alcohol where alcohol is prohibited. In fact, aside from a restaurant, people don’t want the space activated. Besides, the Park Board doesn’t know what people want from this area as they haven’t asked. There has been no forum to collect community thoughts or ideas to draw any conclusion.
As City Hall Watch expresses, “Our elected officials have the ethical and legal obligation to serve the public interest above all, but how are they to make the wisest decisions [without collecting stakeholder views]?”
A failed process and inadequate consultation
The sequence of events from 2015 to 2016 involved a highly regarded local restaurant, selected through the City’s procurement process, exiting and the newly acquired Anheuser-Busch’s subsidiary, Stanley Park Brewing Co., being sole sourced for this site. Although many local and Canadian companies were interested in the spot, the world’s largest beer conglomerate was chosen. Never before has a brewery been allowed into B.C.’s park system. All of this was done without proper public consultation.
For the neighbourhood, one site sign was posted on the garbage fence behind the building. Not one resident out of 1500+ has received the official notification card sent to five property management firms. No management firm remembered receiving it or forwarding it on.
A few support letters don’t constitute stakeholder support
The Park Board indicates they have received public, stakeholder and First Nations support. Aside from First Nations approval, one cannot draw a conclusion of stakeholder support. The Park Board received more than four times the opposition to the proposal than support from residents who became aware of the project. In a democratic process they say ‘the nays’ have it.
The Park Board indicated they received one support letter from the nearby tennis club. The tennis club now has allocated club space in the Fish House building. The nearby lawn bowlers, who now have a season’s supply of Stanley Park Brewing drinking cups, sent a support letter too. West End is a large and dense community with thousands of residents, businesses and organizations this is not clear evidence of support.
For the Herons, how extinct do they have to be for Park Board protection?
The Herons have become habituated to a range of disturbances during their critical breeding season. However, their habituation tolerance doesn’t provide grounds, nor authorize the Park Board to keep testing their threshold level.
The brewing company and Stanley Park Ecology Society assure people that the at-risk Great Blue Heron Colony will not be harmed. They cannot state this as fact. The Park Board is violating their own guidelines and agreement with the federal and provincial ministries in allowing further disturbance in this area. The Park Board has abdicated their stewardship role for this vulnerable species.
- The Park Board is elected to provide responsible stewardship. Currently they are violating their own Heronry Management Plan guidelines. Their Plan states, the Park Board should be working to minimize disturbance.
- Their Plan recommends expanding the critical season to Jan-Sept rather than Feb-Aug while also preventing nearby special events, construction or other disturbances.
- The Environment Ministry mandates a 200-meter buffer zone for nesting colonies. The Park Board has special agreement for a 60-meter buffer zone. And they continue to violate their own regulations by introducing more disruption less than 30 meters away during the breeding season.
- For at-risk species officials are not only governed by the provincial and federal environment ministries, but also by a signed international treaty called the Precautionary Principle that states officials who have the power to protect these species, must do so, even when all the evidence is not in. The Park Board’s decision does not constitute environmental stewardship.
The main difference for the Herons is the nighttime noise, not the daytime disruption. Up until now, they generally have the quiet of the evening .The Fish House was a quiet place that closed early. The proposed venue differs in operating hours, usage and purpose. The proposed expanded patio is being constructed on the side facing the herons.
We don’t know if this will cause them to abandon their nests, eggs, or chicks or whether it won’t. Hence the Precautionary Principle in the environmental world guides decision-making.
The $4.5 M investment is predominantly needed to build a brewery rather than for the necessary kitchen and window upgrade. In recognition of concerns raised, Stanley Park Brewing has agreed for the first 6 months of operation, they will close by 11:00 pm, and weather permitting, close the patio by 10:00 pm.
Citizens are still puzzled by what this achieves and how it will work when the Park and parking lots close at 10:00 pm.
On Wednesday, January 17th City staff will present a report to Council recommending that they endorse a Limited Liquor Primary License to facilitate growler re-fills for the restaurant. Council Policy requires new liquor primary licenses to be subject to Public Consultation. Public Consultation has not happened.
Stanley Park Advocates. Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org
News release: New restaurant soon to open in historic Stanley Park location
Vancouver Park Board
January 15, 2018
New restaurant soon to open in historic Stanley Park location
Later this year, the Park Board and Stanley Park Brewing Company will open a new restaurant at the site of the old Fish House near the tennis courts in Stanley Park. Since 1949, generations of Vancouverites and visitors have enjoyed food and drink along with spectacular views from the outdoor Heron and Bay patios at the restaurant.
There will be no change to the building footprint in the new restaurant. The outdoor decks will remain in their current locations in the renovation of this historic building. We are confident the project will activate this public space in a beneficial way to the park and residents and construction has already begun.
In November 2016, after going through the City’s procurement process, the Park Board approved entering into a lease agreement with Stanley Park Brewing Co. for a restaurant, with small batch brewing on site and retail use as approved under current zoning at the former Fish House restaurant site. This has been an operational restaurant, with two active patios for almost 70 years.
“I am confident that we can deliver a restaurant at this historic location in a way that is completely consistent with our mission and mandate to protect and preserve parks and green space in the City of Vancouver,” said Park Board Chair Stuart Mackinnon. “Our partners at the Stanley Park Ecology Society have reassured our Board that the magnificent Pacific Great Blue heron colony at 2099 Beach Avenue will not be harmed by the careful and continuing use of this space as a restaurant.”
The approved concept and use has received public, stakeholder and First Nations support. During our consultation last fall, it was endorsed by the West End Business Improvement Association and the Stanley Park lawn bowling and tennis clubs. Our restaurant partners have committed to continuing working with Stanley Park Ecology Society (SPES) and residents to protect wildlife and mitigate risks to the park ecosystem.
The Stanley Park Ecology Society (SPES) has advised us that, remarkably, the heron seem to thrive in the existing urban environment with tennis courts, high-rises and tour buses in the vicinity. SPES has indicated they are more concerned about increasing popularity of drones than they are about the continuing use of this location as a restaurant.
A Park Board biologist points out that nesting herons are typically at the Stanley Park colony from mid- February to the end of July and are most sensitive to disturbance during the beginning of the nesting season. Use of the two existing outdoor patios at the new Stanley Park Brewery restaurant will be greatest in the warmest part of summer after the herons have left for the year.
“Nesting herons are tolerant of urban activities once the colony settles in. The Stanley Park nesting colony co-exists with constant use of the surrounding area by people, dogs, tennis, lawn mowing and other park recreation and maintenance activities. In fact, some heron colonies benefit from urban locations because human use can reduce eagle predation on eggs and chicks,” says Park Board biologist Nick Page.
The Stanley Park Brewing Company has made a $4.5 M investment in developing the property and will establish the following uses on the site.
* Restaurant offering a full service menu designed to complement the beers brewed on site
* Small Batch Innovation Brewing – fully contained: no extension to building footprint
* Retail space/ Growler fills – growler fills for unique beers brewed on site in small batches. Locally sourced Stanley Park Brewing merchandise
* Private function space – a unique venue for corporate and special events adhering to noise and operating hour by-laws
* Education & Activation – will draw locals and visitors to the park year around with beer training and education
With the exception of the limited, small batch, on site brewing of beer, the activities associated with this restaurant will not be much different than others within the Park Board’s portfolio such as Cactus Club on English Bay, Stanley’s Bar and Grill in Stanley Park and the Boat House at Kitsilano Beach. The majority of Stanley Park Brewing products are made at a large facility on Annacis Island in Delta.
Stanley Park Brewing is committed to sustainability in the manufacturing of their small batches of beer at this site. The brewing system will be fully contained, with no extension to building footprint, and no venting of smells to the outside. Installing a vapor condenser will effectively condense the steam created by the brewing process and send it to a drain as hot water. There will be no venting of steam directly to the outside. Their system will largely eliminate odors and as an added benefit, the hot water created by condensing the steam will be captured and used in the brewing process the next day, thus reducing water consumption.
The proposed hours of operations for this site are consistent with other restaurants within the Parks system. As per licensing requirements, the window of operation will be from 11:00 am-midnight, Monday to Friday, and 9:00 am-midnight, Saturday and Sunday. In recognition of concerns raised, Stanley Park Brewing has agreed for the first 6 months of operation, they will close by 11:00 pm, and weather permitting, close the patio by 10:00 pm.
To further minimize impacts on the park and surrounding neighborhood, Stanley Park Brewing have taken these steps to minimize potential noise coming from the restaurant:
* No entertainment or music on the two existing deck patios
* Properly insulating the building
* Replacing the single pane windows with double glaze
* Strictly adhering to noise and operating hour bylaws
* Signage to encourage customers to be mindful of neighbors when leaving
On Wednesday, January 17th City staff will present a report to Council recommending that they endorse a Limited Liquor Primary License to facilitate growler re-fills for the restaurant. This recommendation is the latest step following the approval by Park Board for the lease and the completion of the development permitting process.
Park Board Communications Office