Lake of Bays Council denied the application proposal for an outdoor seating area for Lake of Bays Brewery, in the February 28, 2023, planning meeting.
The proposal was initially presented in 2021 to accommodate the pandemic with outdoor seating, and it was deferred to allow the applicant time to provide clarification and/or an amendment regarding capacity for the seating area and parking requirements.
To accommodate the Township, the applicant reduced the person capacity from 124 to 105, and the parking spaces from 44 to 39, including planning arrangements for on and off-site parking for the overflow of 15 customers to park at 6 Bay Street, and conducted a traffic impact study that showed no issues.
Staff recommended that Council deny the amended application because, according to the report, “it doesn’t conform to the intent of the Township Official Plan and doesn’t represent good planning.”
Upon further discussion, Council expressed concerns about noise for nearby residents, snow removal, parking, and traffic entering and exiting the parking lot.
Addressing the site plan provided to Council, Planning Agent, Lanny Dennis, advised members, “Whatever was shown on the sketch is precisely what they can have.” He indicated the business is in a required settlement area and that according to the Provincial Policy Statement, “the focus is on growth and development to ensure vitality of the community.”
Dennis added, “The proposal is simply to modify what they presently have on site, with a new use to bring it into contemporary standards.” He added, “The use that’s proposed is permitted. It is a permitted use on the property… It’s just simply a reallocation of the existing structures on the property… We’re in the urban core. This is where the intensification, redevelopment, and infilling is supposed to occur.”
Brewery owner, Darren Smith, expressed concerns about the challenges throughout the two years of trying to get their proposal approved. He said, “We’ve been through several rounds of revisions, trying to address concerns that have been requested with the application, and we just don’t seem to be making any progress. Our general impression at this point is that for whatever reason this application that we put forward is something quite simply isn’t wanted.”
Smith indicated that the proposal is consistent with what’s intended for the site use. He added, “if it isn’t what’s desired at this location, then please just tell us and we’ll stop spending time and trying to put this or other proposals forward.”
The owner indicated that the business is at a crossroads with this site, given that they are moving their primary brewing division to Bracebridge within the next couple of years, and the problems they are experiencing with the proposal to the Lake of Bays Township, causes them to question doing business there over the long-term, even though they are attracting visitors, creating employment, and helping the economic vitality of the community.
The Brewery has considered putting a pub in the Baysville location in the future but are reconsidering. Smith said, “If we’re having this much trouble just trying to add a comparatively small seasonal patio and food truck to this site, then I don’t even know if it’s worth us coming forward with any of these other ideas, because it seems as though we’re going to run into all of these same issues again.” Without being able to expand on the current site with the patio, it won’t be financially sustainable for the business once the brewery portion moves.
Joint owner, Ian Smith, reminded Council that the property is zoned as commercial. He said, “We don’t seem to be able to do what you should normally do in a commercial zone.” He recommended that the Township look into parking studies, “and see what’s actually required.”
Councillor, Rick Brooks, raised concerns about the Brewery not including a shared parking agreement for the overflow of parking.
Dennis indicated that they were waiting for the Townships approval before drawing up agreements.
Councillor, Nancy Tapley, said, “I feel a little bit blackmailed by this,” and inquired about the available space if the old buildings were torn down.
Councillor, Mike Peppard, said, “We really have to vote on what’s before us today, not the hope that there will be a brew pub, which would be awesome for Baysville down the road.” He suggested a deferral so the applicant can come back with their potential brew pub plan. He added, “That would be far more interesting and possible for us to look at.”
Darren expressed that presenting another proposal would likely result in the same challenges on a larger scale. He said, “If this is challenging enough, then the brew pub is just going to be even more challenging.”
The planning agent refused Council’s suggestion to defer the application again requiring the owners to accommodate further requirements of the Township and Council denied the proposed application.