September 12, 2015 - 11:30 AM
KELOWNA - City staff are recommending against a request for a half hour extention of hours at downtown bars and nightclubs in Kelowna but would support doubling the number of special event nights with closing times as late as 4 a.m.
According to a report by community planning manager Ryan Smith, a downtown industry group which calls itself the Standard has asked the city extend hours until 2:30 a.m. from the current closing time of 2 a.m.
However, staff have countered by offering support for bar owners to receive three additional special event licenses each year, with closing times of as late as 4 a.m., on top of three event licenses now allowed with 3 a.m. closings. Late openings are also allowed on New Years Eve.
That model would require bars pay the addtional policing costs associated with the later openings and the sometimes violent “bar flush” which occurs when nightclubs stop serving liquor.
These late night openings would only be extended to bars which keep in good standing with the Kelowna RCMP and the B.C. Liquor Control and Licensing Branch.
Staff cite support in both previous reviews of liquor laws in downtown Kelowna, which concluded later openings would do nothing to stop the bar flush except delay it until later in the evening and make the problems with noise and rowdy behaviour worse.
The report notes bar owners in the past have generally found the one-off late night events did little for their bottom line while keeping bars open for an hour instead of half an hour past liquor cutoff — the so-called dispersal time — did nothing but increase staffing costs as they could not generate revenue.
While the local industry says it is open to taking more special event licenses, current Liquor Control and Licensing Branch regulations limit them to six per year.
City councillors will receive the recommendation at their regular meeting at 1:30 p.m. on Monday, Sept. 14 in council chambers.
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