September 16, 2015 - 8:30 AM
KELOWNA - Night owls can soon look forward to a few extra extended bar nights in downtown Kelowna.
Councili has endorsed a staff recommendation that allows certain nightclubs and bars three extra extended hours openings per year, on top of the three already allowed.
The nightclubs will be responsible for extra policing costs on those nights and must remain in good standing with the local police, city bylaw and the Liquor Control and Licensing Branch.
Community planning manager Ryan Smith told council the recommendation was a compromise negotiated with a group of local nightclub operators known as 'The Standard,' after making it clear to them staff did not support any extension to regular hours.
“This was supported by previous policy documents in 2003 and 2011. They found no desire from a political or community perspective to increase later closings."
'The Standard' had been testing the waters in meetings with city staff, Kelowna RCMP and the licensing branch about adding half an hour to the current closing time of 2 a.m.
Coun. Luke Stack voted against the compromise, the sole opponent after Coun. Brad Sieben and Maxine Dehart excused themselves from the debate over conflict of interest.
“I believe this is going to create strife accepting this new rule. I think the rules we have are well thought out and defensible. I think we should stay the course on what we have.”
Coun. Charlie Hodge took the opposite tack, voting to accept the extra openings but criticizing them as not going far enough and pointing the finger at some patrons.
“I think the clientele encouraged by some bars is the problem. We make all this effort to make the downtown attractive to young people but we don’t want you to have fun late at night. You can’t have both. Downtown is meant to be livable. Let's see how it works and give it a year."
Coun. Gail Given took a more moderate approach, voting to grant the three extended openings, but voicing her concern.
“I’m nervous about this becoming an expectation of the clubs that they are entitled to them. Losing that privilege is a bit of a balance, the risk they might have to shut down. It gives the operators the opportunity to prove they aren’t going to cause problems yet still gives staff a bit of a stick.”
Approval of the additional three extra days falls within city jurisdiction and does not require approval from the licensing branch. If any more days beyond the six are sought, provincial approval will be required.
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News from © InfoTel News Ltd, 2015