Headline-hitting B.C. brewery hires former VBOT boss

Fast-growing and controversy-prone brewery PWB has appointed Darcy Rezac, former longtime head of the Vancouver Board of Trade, as its vice-president of corporate affairs.

Fast-growing and controversy-prone brewery PWB has appointed Darcy Rezac, former longtime head of the Vancouver Board of Trade, as its vice-president of corporate affairs.

Rezac was managing director of the VBOT for 24 years.

The Prince George-based brewery’s CEO, Kazuko Komatsu, said in a release that Rezac would “help us to navigate the pathways to future growth and employment stability.”

Rezac wrote a book about networking called Work The Pond and is known for having an extensive network among business executives and politicians.

His network will undoubtedly come in handy for PWB, which has grown so fast that there were concerns earlier this year that its production would surpass 160,000 hectolitres – a key production threshold that would have put PWB in a different tax bracket because it could no longer be able to be categorized as a microbrewery.

Controversy then arose last month because of what appeared to be government regulatory changes aimed at preventing PWB from being hit with a sudden tax hike.

Letters were sent to brewers noting a change in provincial tax policy that would raise the production threshold for microbreweries to 400,000 hectolitres.

The change concerned the nation’s big brewers, who, represented by the National Brewers’ Association, arranged a meeting with a small group of BC Liberal Party backbenchers to protest the decision.

The change in tax policy was not sanctioned by cabinet or revealed to government MLAs. Back-benchers such as Randy Hawes started publicly asking questions about what appeared to be special treatment for the brewery.

It was then revealed that PWB had given Rich Coleman, who is in charge of the province’s liquor laws, $27,000 worth of in-kind donations to auction off at fundraisers.

Coleman then reversed the policy change, saying that the letters went out in error. He added that the intent of the policy was to protect 50 jobs because PWB had threatened to stop production and lay off staff.

PWB has continued production even though it has likely now surpassed the 160,000-hectolitre threshold in 2012.

The 55-year-old company was formerly known as Caribou Brewing and is Canada’s longest-running B.C.-owned brewery.

gkorstrom@biv.com

@GlenKorstrom

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