Four Winds Brewing ‘frustrated’ over Delta’s rejection of planned expansion

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WATCH ABOVE: While many B.C. cities are fast-tracking brew pubs and breweries, the City of Delta has turned down one operation's expansion request. As Aaron McArthur reports, the company is now considering its options.

Delta city council’s rejection of a popular local brewer’s plans for a major expansion could cost the city one of its fastest-growing businesses.

Four Winds Brewing Company had proposed a massive new facility that would contain a craft brewery and 200-seat restaurant, along with brewing and bottling services.

Council rejected the 30,000-square-foot proposal last week, mainly because they said it didn’t align with the community plan for the developing Southlands area, which doesn’t include industrial or manufacturing uses.

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On Thursday, the brewery’s co-founder Adam Mills said the rejection was “frustrating.”

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“We felt like we came up with a great proposal that would benefit the community and was in line with what the original vision of Southlands was, which was for smaller, agriculture-based businesses utilizing the farmland,” he said.

The expansion project has been crucial to the future plans of Four Winds, which is running out of room at its current location in an industrial park on River Road. The brewery has become so popular over its six years of business that it’s nearly impossible to find a seat in its tasting room during peak hours.

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The hope was to expand that commercial space while giving the brewers access to land to grow hops in its backyard.

Faced with a rejection from council, Mills said the brewery is “considering its options” — which could mean leaving the city it calls home.

“If it’s not a possibility to build the type of facility that we need to prosper as a business, we may have to look elsewhere,” he said.

But the troubles for Southlands in Tsawwassen stretch back decades further, with irrigation issues tying up development before Century Group presented its original proposal for a mixed-use community in 2006. City council wouldn’t give the final seal of approval for another decade.

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In casting the deciding vote against Four Winds’ proposal last Monday, Mayor George Harvie accused Century Group of promoting the brewery on its website for the Southlands development when it hadn’t been approved.

He also said the plan runs against what residents called for when the last city council gave the green light to the Southlands community plan in 2016.

The mayor’s office did not respond to requests for comment.

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Coun. Dylan Kruger, who voted for the proposal along with former mayor Lois Jackson, disagreed with Harvie and said the rejection was a mistake.

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“It would be a huge opportunity to get a big anchor tenant in like Four Winds to provide jobs and even get agri-tourism involved,” he said, adding he hopes the city works with the brewery to redevelop the proposal into something that can be approved.

“I think as council, we need to support our small businesses, especially a major success story like Four Winds, and we need to ask ourselves what kind of community we want to be,” he added.

Mills was also hopeful a new arrangement could be worked out that keeps Four Winds in its hometown.

“We believe Delta wants us,” he said. “We want to be in Delta. That’s our home, that’s where we’re from, we were raised there, we’re raising our families there and we’d love to stay there.”

On Thursday, local resident Dan Patching started a petition calling on city council to reverse its decision.

—With files from Aaron McArthur