Toronto modernizes the rules for opening new microbreweries

Published 10/07/2019 |

Toronto Brewery News


The city council of Toronto has just approved modifications to the city's zoning bylaws that aim to facilitate the opening of micro breweries.

According to Mike Layton, city councillor, the current zoning rules are "very dated" and make it difficult to open new ventures.

Layton also states that, in addition to making the opening of new establishments in the city more flexible, the modifications ensure that beer festivals are part of the municipal strategic economic development plan, as is the case in other North American cities.

The biggest problem, says Layton, is in the legal definition of "Brewery", which is defined by the zoning bylaws as being an "industrial space". This obliges breweries to operate in industrial zones only, which do not allow patios, retail sales and taprooms, essential for the operation of a microbrewery.

"In commercial areas it allows for the craft beer, the brewery to function and then on the other side in the industrial areas it allows for the taprooms, patios and retail shops. This [motion] fixes both sides," said Layton.

Steve Himel, co-founder of Henderson Brewing, says “It was a surprise when we went to open our small brewery that the city didn’t really have any place for craft breweries, that they were looking at us like they would look at a giant manufacturer who might be making millions of liters of beer a week”.

In addition to making life easier for brewers, the proposed changes aim to maintain employment, as well as to develop the local economy.

“Having a zoning bylaw that reflects that changing (economy) dynamic is really important,” said Layton.