City of Edmonton Flouts Code, Costing Small Business Thousands
EDMONTON, Alberta, May 21, 2021 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) — Half Hitch Brewing Company (“Half Hitch”) is a family run business and has been expanding operations under their new brand name, The Mash. The company is on-track to open its fifth location within Alberta within weeks. The Mash utilizes state of the art and advanced quick service restaurant (QSR) technology and equipment to develop a cost-effective solution to produce their menu offerings, thus providing a cost effective and efficient concept design and operation. With three locations within Calgary, one in Airdrie, and one in St. Albert, Half Hitch looks to bring The Mash into Edmonton this year. This effort however, has been met with a litany of red tape, poor communication, bullying, and no regard for applicable code during the review process from inspectors during the commercial permitting process within the City of Edmonton. Despite what the applicable codes outline regarding compliance, the current experience is that the City of Edmonton planners and inspectors believe that they may operate outside of these guidelines. Co-Founder and CEO Kyle Heier has been met with unfriendly and biased interpretation, and it seems the clear message received from the City of Edmonton to Heier and Half Hitch is, “Do what we say, and not what our rule books tell you”.
- Every town and municipality within Alberta follow the same chartered building codes (NBC-AE 2019) as well as code surrounding commercial cooking operations (NFPA-96) and fire safety (Standata).
- Edmonton officials have disregarded code and resort to intimidation and bullying tactics, in essence, the City won’t approve your application unless you comply with their demands despite your contrary evidence and the written rules even if all other municipalities have agreed The Mash’s equipment and design comply.
- The Mash is developed around both compliance and simplicity to ensure costs are reasonable, while complying with code requirements.
- The Mash has successfully expanded into 5 new locations within Alberta over the last year, during a covid pandemic, with little to no resistance regarding permitting or approvals.
- Half Hitch Brewing Company has been able to secure additional financing from both debt and equity from the success of The Mash concept.
Heier, who has spear headed the growth of The Mash stated, “I understand that the technology we use in our kitchen equipment is new and state of the art. That doesn’t mean it should be disregarded as its design and intended purpose is to avoid the expensive ventilation costs typical with restaurant build outs, to allow the smaller QSR’s a chance.” Heier goes on to say,
“The equipment manufacturers spend resources to go through the required testing to ensure compliance. I have provided compelling evidence and documentation to the specific areas within all relevant code(s) to the City of Edmonton inspectors indicating equipment compliance. However, we’re mind blown that our evidence and reasonable arguments are dismissed without any review. In comparison, my experience with City of Calgary has been much more positive and very comprehensive.”
Heier made note that the careless and complacent decisions made by officials have rippling effects that never seem to be taken into account. “Whether it be financial harm or incremental costs tied to delay, the impact felt by business owners alike are seemingly of no consequence to those making critical decisions on the public’s dime.” The same mentality has been shared by developers and landlords alike whom have had similar experiences working with Edmonton officials.
In recent correspondence, City of Edmonton threatened to issue Heier an “Order to Comply”, despite all the contrary evidence surrounding their opinions as a bullying tactic to delay and incur more costs for Half Hitch. The major issue with this threat, “is that it is primarily baseless”. As Heier puts it, these officials are displaying behavior that is “akin to bullying”, and deploying “intimidation tactics to TELL me I am wrong, rather than allow me to be right.”
The Mash model has successfully gone through development and building permit processes and operates within other municipalities within Alberta. The first location within Airdrie was opened in May of 2020, with the second in Calgary following closely behind in June. An additional location has opened since within Calgary in 2021 with two more to complete construction within June. In the same correspondence, The same Edmonton official has indicated that he has initiated an investigation into all locations. Heier continues,
“It has seemingly turned into a personal vendetta, and bureaucratic authority has become maliciously all-consuming. This official is now threatening our business and the livelihood of our families. It is very unfortunate that this person seems to want to do everything in their power to hinder small business development rather than assist in its growth.”
Meanwhile, Heier at the same time applications were submitted in both Cities, is within weeks of commencing construction simultaneously of 2 new Calgary locations. Half Hitch hopes to find resolution sooner than later with the City of Edmonton. Heier feels this process has unreasonably gone on far longer than it needed to but continues to try and keep communication and dialogue open.
Half Hitch still remains within the convoluted waiting process with the City of Edmonton for two new locations in both the prominent high profile Whyte Avenue, and West Edmonton.
While the Covid restrictions and lockdowns have provided significant challenges, and difficulties across the board, Heier and Half Hitch have been able to pivot and find success. The Half Hitch family hopes that sharing their experiences not all uncommon to commercial business owners and landlords of Edmonton, can bring awareness and immediate change. Half Hitch continue their ongoing plans to bring more locations online in 2021.
About Half Hitch Brewing Company: Half Hitch (https://halfhitchbrewing.ca) is a family owned and operated micro-brewery within the Town of Cochrane. Starting in 2016, Half Hitch has garnered significant market share with their various brands, most notably the Farmers Daughter Pale Ale and the award-winning Papa Bear Prairie Ale. Half Hitch will have opened their first five locations under The Mash (https://masheats.ca) brand name within the heart of the Covid pandemic and lockdowns. They aim to be in ten locations by year end 2021. The company also continues to raise funds through equity using the FrontFundr platform (https://www.frontfundr.com/halfhitch). These funds allow for expeditious growth through The Mash model while bringing in new shareholders looking to share in the success of the company.