Ucluelet Brewing Company cheers award winning ambience

Brewery wins Vancouver Island Real Estate Board’s Award of Excellence in the hospitality category. Andrew Bailey; Oct. 15, 2020 12:00 a.m.; Business.

The Ucluelet Brewing Company can officially boast an award winning ambience.

The company was recently announced the winner of the Vancouver Island Real Estate Board’s Award of Excellence in the hospitality category.

The company’s owner Dennis Morgan told the Westerly News the award reflects the community’s strong local skillsets.

“It’s fantastic for Ucluelet to have the talent to be able to pull this renovation off to the degree that it happened and to the degree that it got an award,” the company’s owner Dennis Morgan told the Westerly News. “It’s all local expertise, skill and thought that pulled it together.”

The award also represents a significant full-circle turnaround for the building formerly known as St. Aidan’s on the Hill church, which was built by community volunteers. The church was deconsecrated in 2010 and sold to develop Leif Hagar who ran into a zoning dispute with the district, leading to the building becoming unused and a rundown eyesore in the centre of town before Morgan presented a plan to transform the space into the community’s first microbrewery in 2016.

Renovations took several years and the brewery opened its doors in the spring of 2020.

Morgan said the award presents a positive reflection on, and vindication of, the patience and attention to detail put into the development.

“A lot of thought and effort and time and money, honestly, went into it. This wasn’t something we wanted to get open as fast as we can and make money. We thought, ‘ We’re going to do this and we’re going to do it right and so it’s going to take a bit longer,’” he said.

“It took what it took and that was the right amount of time and when people walk in the door, they’re blown away…It’s really well done and well designed and that shows. You can walk in and see the high standards and high quality materials that went into this.”

He said the skill-sets that came together to bring his vision to fruition were “huge” and he heralded the high standards of local builders.

“Having the broad scope of local talent allows things to happen more efficiently,” he said. “It all came off to such a high standard. It’s award winning…There’s constant little surprises. I was talking to somebody the other day that was saying every time they come in here they notice something new, there are little things that they don’t necessarily see every visit; it takes a few visits to see those things, some of the finer aspects of woodworking.”

Business has not been as smooth sailing as hoped as the brewery’s first year of operation was interrupted by the coronavirus pandemic, which forced the doors to close just week’s after its grand opening. Morgan said he was grateful for the town’s support through take-out sales during the early summer’s COVID-19 restrictions and noted the brewery has reopened, though its inside seating capacity maxes out around 25 to adhere to social distancing protocols. He said he plans to stay open during the winter months and will bring in canopies and heaters to create a “cozy little atmosphere,” on the patio, which overlooks Ucluelet downtown core and harbour.

“The whole plan for this was to be a local place to hang out. Locals were very supportive during COVID, when I was doing the growlers, and I’m pretty sure they’re going to be supportive this winter, they’re just kind of waiting for the tourists to go away,” he said. “I’m pretty optimistic that I’m going to survive through the winter, but I don’t think I’ll be raking it in in any way. My focus now is to look for where I can cut costs wherever I can and be efficient and survive the winter.”

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Coastal towns hold BC lead in home price increase

The Vancouver Island Real Estate Board (VIREB) recorded 1,287 sales in … “The strength of our housing market has surprised us somewhat,” said …

In what real estate agents say is partly a pandemic-driven exodus from the Lower Mainland, smaller centres on the Sunshine Coast and Vancouver Island are shattering records for home sales and price increases this year.

In Powell River September home sales soared 152 per cent from the same month a year earlier and average prices increased 30 per cent, the second time in three months that the town of about 14,000 has led the entire province in price increases, according to data from the Powell River Real Estate Board.

The average home price in Powell River is now $440,011, the second-lowest in the province behind northern B.C. and the Kootenays. As a comparison, the median price of a standard two-storey house in Metro Vancouver is now $1.9 million, and the median price of a bungalow is $1.45 million, according to a Royal LePage price survey released October 14.

The BC Real Estate Association confirmed that the total dollar volume of Powell River residential sales surged 194 per cent in September – by far the biggest increase in B.C. – to $24.6 million.

“House prices are at record highs here,” said Royal Lepage agent Josh Statham in Powell River, who said the bulk of buyers are coming from the Lower Mainland, particularly from Squamish.

Statham added the Powell River market is dominated by detached houses, which he credited to the number of people working from home and seeking more space and privacy.

“It used to be that buyers stumbled on Powell River on their way to Vancouver Island,” Statham said, “but now they are coming straight here.”

Vancouver Island north of Victoria is also setting sales and price records this year, posting a 100 per cent sales increase in September, reports the BCREA, with the average home price up 15.6 per cent to $552,678.

The Vancouver Island Real Estate Board (VIREB) recorded 1,287 sales in September compared to 692 in September 2019, with half the sales this year being detached houses

“The strength of our housing market has surprised us somewhat,” said VIREB president Kevin Reid. “We frankly did not expect it to recover so quickly from the COVID-19 effect.”

Reid attributes the recovery partly to pent-up demand and low mortgage rates, but added “we have noticed that some buyers are advancing their retirement plans due to the pandemic. Economic uncertainty is motivating other consumers to downsize and reduce their debt load.”

Vancouver Island is a popular retirement destination and an attractive alternative for millennials seeking the West Coast lifestyle for less money than in Vancouver, he said.

After a sharp run-up during the summer, home price increases have moderated in most Island communities.

In Campbell River, the benchmark price of a single-family house hit $454,200 in September, a small increase over last year. In the Comox Valley, the benchmark price was $523,500, a slight dip from one year ago. Duncan reported a price of $489,000, an increase of 1 per cent from September 2019.

Nanaimo’s benchmark price dropped by 3 per cent to $553,600, while the Parksville-Qualicum area saw its benchmark price increase by 3 per cent to $612,800. The cost of a benchmark single-family home in Port Alberni reached $329,500, up 2 per cent from one year ago, according to VIREB data.

Construction underway on cannabis breeding centre in Comox

Anandia, a subsidiary of Aurora Cannabis Inc. is behind a new “Cannabis Innovation Centre” just off of Knight Road, near the Comox Valley Airport.

COMOX, B.C. – Just in time for the legalization of recreation cannabis, a new operation has broken ground in Comox.

Anandia, a subsidiary of Aurora Cannabis Inc. is behind a new “Cannabis Innovation Centre” just off of Knight Road, near the Comox Valley Airport.

“Earlier this year, we heard that there was a company interested in setting up a research and development facility at the property next to the traffic circle in Comox on Knight Road,” said Comox mayor Paul Ives.

“They’re a couple of local people who are based in Vancouver now, and are moving their operations here to the Comox area because of the relatively affordable land and the opportunity to construct and expand a research and development facility.”

A sign located on the property, displaying some of the project details. Photo by Justin Goulet/Vista Radio

Anandia focuses on the science of cannabis with two sites in Vancouver. The company has 42 staff members, including 31 scientists, according to Comox project coordinator Nick Page.

The company works on cannabis testing, to ensure the safety of consumers, and breeding of new cultivars.

The Comox project will focus on Anandia’s plant breeding work

The first phase will consist of a 21,000 square foot greenhouse and a 10,500 header house that will include offices, lab space, meeting rooms and electrical gear to power the greenhouse.

According to the company, future phases will “likely include more greenhouses, as well as support buildings, labs and offices.

The site will be fully fenced and gated and monitored as per Health Canada’s security regulations.

Heatherbrae Builders out of Nanaimo is the general contractor with sub-contractors from the Comox Valley and other parts of Vancouver Island.

Ives said the town has been in contact with Anandia in regards to the project.

“Council was asked just to approve the stormwater management process that they’re going to employ. Otherwise, it was already pre-zoned by council of a previous time to allow for that kind of use, essentially a light industrial use,” he said.

He said the facility would have a positive impact on Comox, and the entire Valley.

“We understand that there could be as many as 30 relatively high-paying jobs with people who have PHDs and other qualifications doing the research. So they’ll be moving here, buying houses and contributing to the local economy,” he explained.

“When you combine that with the fixed wing search and rescue facility, which is another 70 high-paying jobs, that building is under construction at the base, so that’s a significant boost for the local economy.”

As for concerns about smell in the area, the company said that they are going to use two types of filters to remove odour from the air.

The first phase of the project is slated to be completed by June 2019.