Surrey eases red tape, expands liquor tasting lounge allowances for breweries, distilleries

SURREY has made changes to address barriers that breweries and distilleries face when looking to establish in the city, including allowing liquor tasting lounges (a “lounge endorsement”) in highway commercial industrial and light industrial zones and increasing size allowances for such spaces.

During a Regular Council Meeting earlier this month, Surrey City Council gave final reading to a zoning by-law amendment that addressed these and other industry challenges.

“Surrey is increasingly attracting young professionals and families into the city who are looking for diverse food and beverage experiences,” said Surrey Mayor Doug McCallum on Monday. “It is for this reason the City has worked with the industry to address some of the barriers they face when looking to establish tasting lounges to provide spaces for building community vibrancy and culture. The growth of this sector in Surrey will also create more jobs for our growing population and workforce.”

Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, the City of Surrey’s Economic Development Division hosted a roundtable with regional breweries to discuss the challenges they face when looking to establish or expand in Metro Vancouver. Some of the key challenges included light industrial zones not allowing for liquor tasting lounges, which required a rezoning to a comprehensive development zone, adding uncertainty, cost and time. The industry also voiced that restrictions on outdoor lounge areas (patios) were prohibitive, and that red tape slowed down the establishment process.

Working with the Planning and Development Department, the City undertook Zoning By-law amendments to address these challenges, including:

* Permitting breweries and distilleries to have a liquor tasting lounge in CHI, IB-3 and IL Zones;
* In the IB-3 and IL Zones, allowing for 40% of gross floor area of the business to be used as a liquor tasting lounge with allowances for retail sales (up to 150 metres/1,615 square feet) which is among the highest in Metro Vancouver;
* In the CHI Zone, there is no size restriction for the interior liquor tasting lounge or retail sales;
* Permitting outdoor patios in all three zones to a maximum of 80 square metres/861 square feet; and
* Reducing parking requirements

These changes mean Surrey has some of the most flexible allowances in Metro Vancouver for breweries and distilleries. The zoning by-law amendments also mean that Surrey has opened-up more than 4,000 acres of land previously inaccessible to breweries for these types of businesses. Learn more and sign up for a webinar on the changes here.