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Civic Impact

Brewery District planned for Toronto’s west end

Steve Himel says a Brewery District will win over people who don't yet love craft beer

When Steve Himel was looking for a location for his new brewery—Henderson Brewing Company, named afer Toronto’s first brewer, Robert Henderson—he discovered how many other breweries were on the west side of Toronto.

“First there was an alarm and the alarm sounded, ‘Competition!’ But then there was a lightbulb and the lightbulb reminded me of things like the Niagara Wine route,” says Himel, who has in worked in beer most of his life, though spent a big chunk of his career doing strategic planning with big companies.

Meeting with the 13 breweries and brew pubs in the area between the Junction and Trinity Bellwoods Park, Himel discovered there was serious interest in his idea: creating a brewery district. Such a district would allow the members to better promote their suds, coordinate their events and collaborate on group events and promotions, give craft beer lovers an easy way to navigate what’s on offer and entice sceptics who might need to do some taste testing to find beers they like. A designated district would also be able to access government programs and be part of broader tourism marketing campaigns. Though other cities have engaged in craft beer promotional efforts—Columbus, Ohio, for example, has an “ale trail” of 25 breweries and brew pubs—this would be a first for Toronto.

The abundance of breweries on the west side is not accidental. They need to be located on industrially zoned land and so the west-bound railway corridor provides the most accessible industrial land in the central area of the city. (Brew pubs don’t have as many restrictions.)

There are still some issues to figure out before a district can be launched, including what area should be included. But Himel hopes there will be something to officially announce by July.

Writer: Paul Gallant
Source: Steve Himel
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