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Canada. Brewery expansion appealed by Creemore residents

A group of local residents opposed to expansion plans for the Creemore Springs brewery have taken their fight to the Ontario Municipal Board.
The expansion would triple capacity of the brewery to 150,000 hectolitres per year. It's a scale that's simply inappropriate for a town the size of Creemore, opponents say.
Creemore has roughly 1,300 residents.
The brewery — owned by the Molson Coors Brewing Company since 2005 — says the multimillion-dollar expansion would be gradual, and claims it has addressed residents' complaints. But Paul Vorstermans, spokesperson for the group filing the appeal, disagrees.
“It's a quality-of-life issue, especially with the noise and the smell,” he said. “Now they'd be doing it 24 hours a day, seven days a week.”
The appeal targets changes in zoning bylaws and the official plan of Clearview Township. Those changes are massive, says Vorstermans.
“Most of the time when there are zoning bylaw changes or exemptions from the plan, they're one or two sentences talking about changing a distance from one foot to two feet or something like that,” he said. “This thing was four pages of densely packed text.”
The area where the brewery is located is zoned for residential and commercial use. The expansion plans require a change to allow industrial use, as well.
The initial expansion plans were approved by Clearview Township council and Simcoe County last year. In January, the brewery asked the council for permission to include five neighbouring lots in its plans, rather than the original three. That change must still be approved by council and the county.
An appeal to the OMB likely wouldn't be heard until fall at the earliest, Vorstermans expects.
Much of the expansion plan wouldn't be put into place for years, said Gord Fuller, brewmaster and general manager at the brewery.
It's not clear what will happen if the OMB rejects the brewery expansion, he admits.
“We've contemplated it, but we don't have a contingency plan in place,” Fuller said.
He estimates 30 new jobs would be created once the full expansion is rolled out. There are already 80 people working at the brewery.
“We believe we're good for the village, and that the village is good for us,” Fuller said. “This whole process is a plan for us to stay in Creemore.”
Keeping the brewery in town is crucial for the village's future, says Clearview Mayor Ken Ferguson. The jobs created by the brewery are economically vital, but so are the tourist visits to the brewery.
“They put Creemore on the map. The amount of tourism they've brought into the village is enormous,” said Ferguson.
In return, the municipality has invested in the area around the brewery, he added. Last year, Clearview Township spent roughly $1 million improving the streets and sidewalks around the brewery, and he doesn't want to see that go to waste.
“I don't like the idea of Creemore becoming a ghost town.”

9 Mar. 2011

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