Conflict brewing over proposed tasting room in Strathcona

WATCH: Some families who live on Vancouver's Downtown Eastside are speaking out against the city's decision to approve a brewery and tasting room right across the street from a community centre. Critics say it's the wrong place to put it, but the brewery believes otherwise. Kristen Robinson explains.

Vancouver’s ever-expanding number of craft breweries might soon include a location at East Hastings and Campbell Avenue – but not everyone in the neighbourhood is happy about it.

Strathcona Brewing Company wants to build a brewery and small tasting room in a boarded-up space that was once a storage warehouse. It’s located across the street from the Ray-Cam Community Centre, and next to the Stamps Place Housing Complex.

“It’s not right for this location. It’s not a bad idea, I’m not opposed to a brew pub…just not across the street from a community centre,” says Guy Wakeman, the Council President for Stamps Place Tenants.

Single mother Colleen Johnson is also opposed to the move, and says the Ray-Cam Community Centre is one of the only places she and her three young children feel safe.

“I don’t want to have to worry about trying to get to the bus stop with the brewery right behind it,” she says.

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“I believe we have enough issues already to deal with addicts and alcoholics. I don’t think we need to add on to our problems.”

Johnson and Wakeman argue that the city should apply the same rules to breweries as they do to marijuana dispensaries, which aren’t allowed within 300 metres of a school or community centre.

Revitalization or gentrification? Strathcona braces for change

But the builder behind the microbrewery, who says he lived in Strathcona for a decade, says the business will create jobs, promote walkability and cut down on area crime.

“The concept that we come in and bring some negative component to the neighbourhood is not a reality,” says Tim Knight of Heatherbrae Builders, who says they’ve offered to meet again with the community centre.

“The few people that may oppose the concept don’t fully understand what we’re trying to do yet.”

Tom Small, who operates Tom’s East Vin Winemaking on the same street, welcomes the potential move and says tasting rooms bring a different clientele than bars.

“People are pretty civil. Most craft beer drinkers are well-headed, civil people who like to talk about beer and drink good beer. I’m all for that,” he says.

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