Brewery owner pinning hopes on pop-up park pubs

Dave Longbottom of Flora Hall Brewing is hoping the City of Ottawa follows the lead of other cities by allowing residents to drink responsibly in designated public spaces like parks.

Dave Longbottom thinks it's one way the city could help during the pandemic

The owner of Ottawa's Flora Hall Brewing, Dave Longbottom, has made his case to the City of Ottawa to let businesses like his operate 'pop-up' establishments in city parks during the COVID-19 pandemic. (Kimberley Molina/CBC)

An Ottawa brewery owner has an idea to help businesses like his thrive during the COVID-19 pandemic — and maybe afterward as well.

Dave Longbottom, owner of Flora Hall Brewing, has asked the City of Ottawa to consider allowing breweries, restaurants and pubs that don't have patio space to operate "pop-up" establishments in city parks.

"Imagine an outdoor permanent food hall where there are five or six of us, and we pop up in a park somewhere and people can purchase food and drink and go enjoy it on a blanket or a bench," Longbottom told CBC Radio's All In A Day last week.

He proposed priority be given to businesses without outdoor patios, and has also offered to build a permanent or semi-permanent marquee where the food hall could operate.

The cost, upkeep, and liability would be taken care of by the businesses who take part, Longbottom said.

Echoes of NCC bistro idea

The National Capital Commission launched a somewhat similar project in 2019, when it opened pop-up bistros with kitchens inside shipping containers in some of the parks it oversees.

All Longbottom's waiting for is the City of Ottawa to give him the green light — for which he's only mildly hopeful.

"I've got a city-type response, which is enthusiasm but stonewalling at the same time," he said.

"We all know how short summer is in Ottawa, so I'm expecting a positive response in and around November or December."

The National Capital Commission started a similar pop-up idea last summer that allows people to enjoy a treat and alcoholic drink in an outdoor, public area. (Miriam Katawazi/CBC)

The City of Ottawa said it would be providing CBC with a response to the plan Monday.

Longbottom said he hopes the idea opens the door for Ottawa to follow other cities that allow adults to drink responsibly in designated public spaces like parks. 

"As a citizen of Ottawa, I'd like to see this all the time."

Gatineau proposal struck down

In Quebec, the province is allowing local municipalities to decide for themselves if they want to allow alcohol in parks, but the idea was crushed by Gatineau's executive committee earlier this week. 

Councillors argued that beer bottles and cans have already created a litter issue, even without booze being legally permitted.

But Longbottom said under his plan, the onus would fall on the businesses to moderate drinking — just like in bars — and to keep the park tidy and trash-free.

"I grew up in Ottawa, and I love Ottawa and I love Canada, but I've lived elsewhere. I've enjoyed beers in parks elsewhere and nobody gets hurt. I think that the issue is that the province of Ontario has always seen alcohol as something to control," he said.

"We have this mindset that the government has to protect us against alcohol, and it's just not a mindset that any other civilized part of the world relates to."

With files from CBC Radio's All In A Day

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