In The Zone


Finally being able to break the news about our expansion plans into a production facility was hugely exciting, and also a giant relief. You may have noticed that things have been relatively quiet since making the announcement, but the truth is that we've been anticipating and gearing up for a very very very important City of Toronto Committee of Adjustments meeting that took place this week -- the outcome of which, would provide us with a much more concrete idea of what 950 Dupont will be.

Now, you might be thinking to yourself, "Eww, I hope they don't talk about boring city zoning junk!" But if you don't like playing high stakes chess with the angry hornets' nest that is the current state of Toronto’s municipal zoning bylaw chaos, then you don't like building breweries my friends. The truth is that there is so much paperwork, planning, and praying when it comes to creating the tank farms that inevitably produce the sweet nectar of the Gods (beer), that you may as well become devoutly religious in the process. We feel it's important to update you every step of the way, in part so that you understand why we have technicolour bags under our eyes, but also so that you get an accurate sense of why our production brewery won't be ready tomorrow.

Don't get us wrong, the process is actually one of the most rewarding and enjoyable stages in establishing a brewery, it's just that it also calls about an extreme lack of sleep and rise in blood pressure. But then, so does a game of Settlers of Catan, and we still gleefully partake in that.

Let's get back to business, though. On Wednesday of this week we attended a meeting with the Committee of Adjustments, having requested some 'minor variances'. The changes we were proposing, and the changes that small businesses often propose in this setting, have a lot to do with the fact that Toronto buildings are very old, and because the zoning bylaws (or combination of overlapping bylaws) that control them are just as old, they aren't really set up for the intended uses of their new tenants.

The proposed minor variances, if granted, would really help the production brewery run more smoothly and efficiently. And though 'minor' in name, they were actually quite huge to us. They affected things like patios, interior walls, parking, and just generally creating and preserving a beautiful historical building. So we talked to a lot of the immediate community up at Dupont and Dovercourt, we explained our reasons for requesting changes, we had lots of meetings with engineers, architects, and the landlord. We had meetings with the zoning department, the planning department, and the city planners office -- we did our homework. And in the interest of providing a realistic update, it's important to note that this process of preparation was, in total, almost 10 months of dedicated efforts.

So, when we finally walked into the CofA meeting this week, and could say that our dog didn't 'eat it', we felt hopeful and confident that our variances would be granted. The meeting was a little tense, but thanks to the guidance of City Councillor Mike Layton, his hardworking team, and the planning department, all of whom helped us to navigate the treacherous waters of City Hall, we're now able to tell you the following:


In the short term this outcome translated to so many high-fives our hands hurt, in the long term it means less arbitrary hoop jumping. Though much of what it determines won't be immediately apparent to patrons, you should rejoice in the fact that we'll have two patios. One will run along Dovercourt, just west of the glass building. The other, intended for special events and functions, will be on the rooftop next to (what we plan to refer to as) 'cascading' hop bine greenery.

So that's where we're at with the production brewery this month. We're revising blueprints with the architects, ironing out the brewhouse layout with the folks at NSI (a manufacturing company operating out of British Columbia that specializes in brewing equipment), ordering fermentation tanks, and readying ourselves for all that September brings. Though we're still riding the high of the approved municipal variances, this is our second brewery after all, and we know that this is but one victory in what will surely be a year long slog. We'll keep you posted...

Up next month, the province!