Storm Brewing mural flagged for a bylaw violation may get reprieve from the city

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      In a city which has—let’s put this charitably—some fairly significant problems that could use some fixing, this is something of a head-scratcher.

      Yesterday evening East Van-based Storm Brewing took to Instagram to announce a mural that’s adorned the brewery for a decade has suddenly caught the attention of the city. The artwork is deemed to be violating City of Vancouver bylaws, and the brewery has been told it has to be removed. 

      Storm, which has operated on Commercial Drive since 1994, is now suggesting that Vancouverites swing by to say goodbye while it gets ready to do the city’s bidding. 

      The brewery accompanied an Instagram photo of the mural with:

      Come down to Storm over the next month to take one more photo with pals or a selfie with this iconic part of our brewery’s history.

      From wedding photos, engagement photos, birthday photos, and more - we appreciate every single person who’s posed here with family and friends.

      The problem from city hall’s perspective is that the work includes the word “Storm”—which in theory makes the mural something akin to a giant advertisement for the brewery.

      East Vancouverites are of course asking themselves why, if city inspectors have so much time on their hands, they aren’t doing something a little less, um, mind-blowingly nitpicky to make the area around Commercial Drive more liveable.

      Here’s a suggestion: instead of obsessing over 10-year-old murals, the city could maybe start seriously working with the Greater Vancouver Regoinal District to address the fact that, the second summer arrives in East Van, the entire hood starts smelling like a Whalley polecat’s ass, this thanks to the mammoth rendering plant and heinously rank poultry and seafood processing factories at the foot of the Drive.

      Seriously, there are days—many of them—where the air flat-out fucking reeks like dead things. 

      And then there’s the fact that whoever’s been contracted out to collect home recycling in Vancouver seems to be of the opinion that there’s nothing wrong with regularly skipping scheduled pickup weeks where the various days of the week have the word “day” in them. And when they do finally deign to show up, what’s deemed worthy of being picked up, and what isn’t, seems to be a crap shoot where the person stupid enough to take an interest in saving the planet by recycling their shit always loses. So then it becomes a case of, “Dear Landfill: Hope you like Styrofoam.”

      But we digress. 

      Reached by the Straight, Vancouver ABC Coun. Sarah Kirby-Yung made it crystal clear which side of the issue that she’s on. That alone might offer hope for the future of the mural. 

      “I want to save the Storm mural, and I don’t want to see it painted over,” Kirby-Yung said. “I reached out to city staff last night as soon as I heard about this. Some options might include grandfathering, because the mural has been there for 10 years. It could be potentially giving it a stay while we look at amending the bylaws—dealing with the actual issue so it’s equitable for everybody. 

      “So there are a couple of options,” she continued. “But I definitely do not want to see this mural go—it’s a great piece of art by a local public artist. What I do want to do is bring forth a motion to amend the bylaw that would allow local businesses to have a mural that’s fun and creative that expresses what they do on their own premises. The issue right now is that our bylaws are so restrictive that they are stifling fun and creative opportunities.” 

      If there’s anything positive to come out of the Storm mural being flagged by city hall staff, Kirby-Yung suggested that it’s illuminating issues and bylaws that need serious looking at for being too restrictive.

      “Everyone wants to live in an interesting and engaging city,” she said. “So we’ve recently formed the Hospitality Working Group—the purpose of that being to work with the industry to identify bylaws and regulations like this that are actually impeding small businesses from doing what they need to do. We’ve got enough issues to deal with in terms of the economy and staffing and things like that. We don’t need to make it harder.” 

      Stay tuned. Or, you know, get down to Storm for your photo op just in case.