The new Stanley Park Brewing development likely won't be open until late fall.
If you’d hoped for somewhere to refill your growler before heading to Third Beach this summer, sadly, you’re going to be disappointed. The long-awaited development of the former Fish House in Stanley Park is not expected to open before November. The site has been vacant since the iconic restaurant closed in 2015. The new leaseholders, Stanley Park Brewing Co., plan to open a restaurant with a small batch brewery and function room within the existing footprint this year. In January, the project seemed to get the green light when Vancouver City Council approved the required liquor licence.
What’s the hold up?
You might wonder why it’s taken so long for a restaurant to open on the site of what was arguably one of Vancouver’s best known special occasion restaurants. Well, it’s complicated. Stanley Park Brewing is owned by Labatt, a division of global beer conglomerate Anheuser-Busch InBev. That itself caused some consternation in the local community when the company entered into a lease agreement with the park board in November 2016. A group called Stanley Park Advocates petitioned against the development, concerned that pubs would take over city parks, and that noise and fumes from the brewery would disrupt local residents, as well as a local heron colony.
Are the herons going to be ok?
Yes, according to both the Vancouver Park Board and Stanley Park Brewing Co. To protect the heron colony, Brian Kuhn, General Manager of Stanley Park Brewing Co., said outside construction work has been delayed and noisy activities such as power washing, leaf blowing and mowing will not occur within 200 metres of the colony during nesting season, which concludes at the end of July. Kuhn said the company has also hired an environmental monitor to be on site during the sensitive nesting season. “Through our Environmental Monitor, we have provided the Vancouver Park Board with valuable data from more than 125 hours of observation, while recording no disturbances related to our project at the former Fish House location,” he said. The Stanley Park Ecology Society is also monitoring the heron colony to survey the number of birds, occupied nests and fledglings. It’s worth noting that a restaurant—with two patios—has been active on the site for almost 70 years.
What about the brewery?
As part of its renovation, Stanley Park Brewing Co. plans on building an on-site microbrewery. On its website, it says the restaurant will be family-friendly and the brewery will be self-contained, with no venting of smells outside. Instead, a vapor condenser will be installed to condense the steam created during the brewing process and send it to a drain as hot water. The hours of operation will be consistent with other restaurants within the Parks portfolio, and perhaps unfortunately for music fans, there will be no live entertainment on the decks. The multi-million dollar renovation also includes the installation of new insulation and double pane windows. Growler refills will only be possible from inside at the bar, to comply with liquor licensing laws.
So, what’s next?
Vancouver City Council approved the company’s primary liquor licence back in January, but in an unusual step, will implement a special community liaison committee to monitor development activities. It’s not exactly clear what this means. A Vancouver Park Board spokesperson said Liquor Licensing was crafting the terms of the committee and expected the restaurant to open in November or December this year, pending construction, occupancy and licensing. On its end, Stanley Park Brewing expects to be able to confirm an opening date by the end of the summer. To be continued.