A proposal to transform Brandon’s historic Central Fire Station into a brewpub has been rejected by city council.
Due to the combination of "financial uncertainties to get the project off the drawing board, plus the assumptions imposed within the proposal ... the evaluation committee cannot support the proponent’s proposals," states a report from city administration.
Grant Hamilton, the Brandon Sun’s Internet co-ordinator, is the main proponent behind the Brewtinerie proposal, which included a brewpub and full-service restaurant specializing in poutine.
The Brewtinerie Co-op estimated the project would cost $3.34 million. The proposal states the project would be funded through a combination of co-operative share sales, fundraising, debt-financing, contributions in kind, merchandise sales and by leveraging the property itself.
"It’s certainly a unique idea and would be a great asset for downtown," said Coun. Jeff Harwood (University), but he added he had some "serious reservations" about finances.
Harwood and other councillors encouraged the Brewtinerie proponents to reapply with a stronger plan.
Mayor Shari Decter Hirst voted against the motion to reject the proposal.
"I don’t believe that it’s our role to manage the financial risk of the Brewtinerie ... Our risk is to protect a heritage building on Princess Avenue ... We all know that an empty old building deteriorates rapidly," she said, adding "I think we also have the responsibly ... to believe in our city’s entrepreneurs."
Following the meeting, Hamilton said the outcome was disappointing but not a surprise.
"That seemed to be the message we were getting, that they like the idea, but this specific proposal wasn’t quite good enough," he said. "It was Coun. (Murray) Blight (Victoria) who said ‘putting the cart before the horse,’ and I guess from our perspective, it’s the reverse. It’s a lot easier to go out and get people to buy into an idea if somebody takes that first initial step … we were really hoping that the city would take that first initial step."
Asked if the co-op will come back with a revised proposal, Hamilton said the group will explore its options.
"We’re not necessarily giving up," he said.