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Proposed Scotch distillery sees spirit of life

A property notorious for its ability to grow weeds instead of manufacturing scotch appears to be seeing some activity towards creating the liquid spirits.
scotch distillery renos
The location of the proposed scotch distillery by Imperial Distillery, located at 1121 and 1127 Ominica Street East, shows what looks like recent renovation debris and a rental waste disposal bin outside on Saturday. MJ Independent photo

A property notorious for its ability to grow weeds instead of manufacturing scotch appears to be seeing some activity towards creating the liquid spirits.

At City Council’s last meeting, they were presented with information from the Development Appeals Board about appeals to the Board.

One appeal was for demolishing and rebuilding a garage, while a second appeal was for the addition of a distillery mill shed at 1121 Ominica Street East.

The 1121 and adjoining 1127 Ominica Street East properties are located in the commercial area - the former Dorlite Manufacturing facility - and were purchased by Imperial Distillers from India to set up a distillery specializing in scotch whiskey.

The proposed scotch plant was granted a three year 100 per cent property tax exemption by Council in January 2019. The property tax exemption was to take effect once renovations and upgrades were completed and scotch production began.

The three year 100 per cent property tax exemption was granted as a means of attracting Imperial Distillery to set up shop in Moose Jaw.

The India based company was looking to set up shop in other jurisdictions - British Columbia - but granting the notoriously debated property tax exemption would see Imperial Distillery set up shop in that time known as the Friendly City.

The exemption was based upon the nature of the liquor manufacturing business, where it takes three years to age the scotch being manufactured and no income coming to the facility during the aging process.

When it was announced at Council over three years ago, the project was suppose to see $3 million in renovations and upgrades and once completed employ 15 people.

What Was Being Appealed?

In his appeal to the Development Appeals Board (DAB), Praveen Chandrasekaran, was asking the Board for a variance to Zoning Bylaw 5346 in order to construct a 126 square foot distillery mill shed addition.

Allowing the addition would result in a rear yard setback of 2.86 meter (9.38foot), which is contrary to the 7.50 meter (24.6feet) as set out in the Zoning Bylaw.

Chandrasekaran asked the DAB to allow for the construction of a proposed scotch mill shed, which would extend 3.2 meters (10.5feet) into the required rear yard, resulting in a proposed rear yard setback of 2.86m contrary to the 7.5 meters (24.6 feet) prescribed under the Zoning Bylaw.

In his appeal, Chandrasekaran advised the Board that according to a distillery engineering team in Scotland the distilling process was only feasible with the equipment in the mill shed at the rear of the property as proposed.

Failure to allow the zoning variance would mean the property for the proposed scotch distillery would be unsuitable, as they are not able to keep the pot still anywhere else on the property and that having the mil! shed at the back of the building will provide the appropriate angle to feed into the mash tank.

The Board approved the applied for zoning variance, as it would not grant any special privileges to the applicant given the property’s location; the variance did not defeat the intent of the bylaw (to give firefighters proper access and egress) given the industrial nature of the neighbourhood and there was no evidence granting the variance would be injurious to neighbouring properties.

A trip to the location recently showed what appeared to be recent renovation debris outside the building and a large rental metal waste disposal bin outside.

The original story can be found on the MJ Independent website.