Holyrood Mayor Gary Goobie says a microbrewery application which has caused a stir in the community is far from being a done deal, and council is listening closely to residents’ concerns.
“We have been listening intently to everybody who has an opinion on this, whether people are against it, or for it,” he said. “That’s the process that’s unfolding right now, and we’re nearing the end of the process to the point where we’ll bring it to the council table and it’ll be voted on.”
The matter didn’t make Tuesday’s public meeting agenda.
“Some councillors are still not at a comfort level whereby they’re prepared to vote on this application,” said Goobie, who added the Town is having talks with Holyrood Marina Park Corporation, which also had concerns about the application.
A number of residents have expressed concern, through social media, calls and e-mails to The Shoreline, and to members of council.
Many of the concerns revolve around the location of the proposed microbrewery — right on the Festival Grounds, a wide area of open space flanked by the community boardwalk.
“There’s no question that this facility will consume some of the Festival Grounds,” Goobie admitted. “They’re looking at 0.5 of an acre. So, some of the Festival Grounds will be compromised as a result. But there’s still going to be a fair amount of Festival Grounds left. It boils down to the fact as to whether residents want to see that business on that site. We’ve been hearing a lot of commentary and conversation on Facebook and other social media sites, as well as from e-mails and phone calls we’re received, and in speaking to residents out around the community, and there’s questions, no question about it. And it boils down to if the majority of the residents in the community feel that none of the Festival Grounds should be compromised in any way to accommodate such a business. We do recognise what our residents are telling us. We are listening.”
Goobie said he has made a decision on how he will vote, and though he did not say whether he would vote for or against the brewery, he said his vote would be guided by the desire of residents.
“All I can say, unequivocally, is that I have been listening to the residents of our community,” said the mayor. “All through this process, I do not interfere in any way, shape, or form as mayor, in trying to convince or sway any other councillors. I’ve never gone to a councillor in advance and asked ‘How are you voting?’ or ‘Why are you voting this way?’ They will vote independently, based on the information they have gathered thus far.”
Goobie said the application from Beachhead Brewery has to follow due process.
“When this application came to our attention, as we do in any situation, whereby a proponent approaches the town with a business application, as courtesy, whether we agree with it or not, we always go through a due process, and we do our due diligence. We flush out all the information, we look at the pros and cons, at all the potential benefits, or any negative aspects of it. But as a council we afford the proponent the opportunity to present their case and to present their business plan. We never shut anybody down,” said Goobie.
“In fairness, and that’s the keyword, to everybody invovled, both the proponent and the residents of the community, we as a council keep an open mind. When this application came before us several months ago, we treated it no differently from any other business application that had been presented to us in the past. And we knew that there would be several perspectives. There would be people for it, and people against it. But as part of following due process, we let the process unfold, so we could gather all the facts, get all the information, and hear from our residents, let the company put forth their business plan, which they did, through a briefing which we invited the public to attend, in which the company provided an opportunity to explain what this brewery is all about, and what the benefits would be to the community.”
Goobie said there are certainly benefits to having a brewery in town.
“There are huge benefits to a microbrewery, there’s no question about it. I received a letter from the mayor of Port Rexton, who advised us of the significant benefits of a microbrewery. And the company has told us that for every $100 invested, it’s a $300 return,” said Goobie. “These microbreweries are magnets for tourists and visitors. So, without any question, there are major benefits from an economic standpoint. That’s one side of the equation. But on the other side, we have to respect, and listen to, what our residents are saying. It’s their property.”
Mark Squibb, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Shoreline News