Nfld. & Labrador

Craft beer scene making noise as Brewdock bar gets green light in St. John's

Despite some commotion from nearby residents over the potential for a new source of racket in the area, St. John's city council approved a craft beer-centred patio and bar — outdoor speakers and all.

Outdoor speakers a sticking point for some, but city council approves proposal

Craig Farewell, left, and Steve Martin, co-owners of the upcoming Brewdock bar in St. John's, say they don't want to disrupt a residential neighbourhood that's seeing a craft beer boom. (Malone Mullin/CBC)

An upcoming bar and patio in downtown St. John's that has drawn criticism from nearby residents now has the green light from city council.

Developers of Brewdock Beer Bar and Eatery at 83 Duckworth St. said they weren't expecting quite so much red tape when they hatched their business plan over a year ago, but didn't mind the discussion surrounding their 60-seat beer garden plans.

"It's extremely fair," said Craig Farewell, the bar's co-owner.

"What we went through in order to get speakers outside, and the restrictions we put forward to put on the application, was so that we never set a negative precedent for the area."

Brewdock's approval was delayed primarily by worries that noise from the patio would disturb nearby homes. Council received 25 submissions from concerned residents, some of whom said the patio outside Bannerman Brewing across the street already generated enough of a din.

"We completely understand where they're coming from," Farewell said. "It's a development for that area — it's not something that the residents who purchased homes 10 years ago have seen."

Brewdock's proposed beer garden sparked discord among council members, with two voting in favour of approving the patio without speakers. (City of St. John's )

Coun. Hope Jamieson moved to approve Brewdock's plans without speakers Monday night, but that motion wasn't popular with other councillors who pointed to strict conditions for music levels within the beer garden embedded within the staff recommendation.

"Traffic in the Duckworth area would certainly be drowning out the speakers.… The fact they'll be off at 9 p.m. seems very reasonable," said Mayor Danny Breen.

He noted the city also has the power to lower the imposed 70-decibel limit, and can conduct investigations into noise levels when it receives complaints.

Deputy Mayor Sheilagh O'Leary sided with Jamieson, questioning the city's ability to respond to and enforce noise complaints. 

"I know the atmosphere is a very important part of a business like this," O'Leary said during the meeting.

"[But] actually being able to monitor or enforce the decibel [level] is something we've grappled with heavily for a very long time."

The property at 83 Duckworth St. was once an exotic dance club. (Google Maps)

Both Jamieson and O'Leary said they support the bar itself.

"How many outdoor drinking spaces are there in St. John's?" Farewell said. "There's mature trees in the area, there's a lot of grass, it's secluded. We just wanted to bring something like that to the city." 

The bar bills itself as a place to sample brews from the province's "flourishing craft beer scene," according to its website.

Farewell said he expects to open by early August.

Read more from CBC Newfoundland and Labrador