Town considering Official Plan amendment to allow breweries in agricultural areas



By Ron Giofu


The town of Amherstburg is considering an Official Plan amendment to allow craft breweries and cideries in rural areas.

A public meeting was held last week with a low turnout. It was the second public meeting on the issue, said manager of planning services Rebecca Belanger, with it being held to ensure people are aware of the matter. She said no one attended the first public meeting.

“The intent is to add breweries and cideries to the wineries provision in the town’s Official Plan,” said Belanger.

If someone were to open a craft brewery or cidery within the town of Amherstburg, it would be under similar conditions that wineries have to face, said Belanger. That is assuming the Official Plan amendment and zoning bylaw amendment passes, with the latter being the next stage in the process.

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“It would be subject to the same conditions as wineries in terms of agricultural policies,” she said.

Belanger said wineries have to devote a large portion of their site to agricultural purposes with the actual winery operation being a secondary use. The same would have to hold true with craft breweries and wineries.

“A lot of the property has to be dedicated to growing crop,” said Belanger.

There is one applicant at the moment to operate a craft brewery in Amherstburg but with so much interest across the province for the industry, Belanger said, “it’s time to do this.

“It’s time to put these policies in place.”

Belanger said the town of Essex has similar provisions and “we’re following suit with the rest of the region as well.”

Should this amendment be approved, it could lead to more uses in agricultural areas.

“I think it’s an opportunity for agricultural diversification,” said Belanger.

There will be a report coming before town council at the April 10 meeting and, if approved, it will be sent to the County of Essex for its approval as well. Belanger said the zoning bylaw amendment process would start after that.

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