Thirty-six members of the community, including Councillors Charlayne Thornton-Joe and Shellie Gudgeon, and two board members from the Downtown Residents Association, attended the Public Information Session at the Colwood Room in the Victoria Conference Centre on Wednesday, June 25. As representative for the owners, Francis Mairet gave a brief presentation outlining his personal and professional connections to the community and reviewed the proposal for the property. The following points were noted in Francis Mairet’s presentation:
His intention for the meeting is for it to provide an opportunity for clarification and understanding around the application put to the City – wants to be a good neighbour and pay attention to the neighbourhood.
He does not make promises he cannot keep.
He does not know what problems there will be in relation to the operation of the pub as it is not operating yet. Will have to wait to see what problems arise once the operations resume.
The [Executive House] hotel is in the process of being redeveloped as a part of a rebranding exercise as a Hilton Doubletree.
He reports to Hilton, and has a 10 year contract with the owners.
He has a personal stake in maintaining a high standard as required by Hilton Doubletree.
Existing food and beverage facilities include a total of 306 seats: 120 Food Primary, 112 Liquor Primary, 28 Patio, 46 Lounge.
He wants to consolidate his operation and reduce total seating to 244 seats.
Proposed changes and upgrades to the food & beverage space are:
The front doors are being redesigned and retooled.
The band will be moved away from the windows near the patio, deeper into the room, with the goal of reducing (but not eliminating) the sound emanating into the street.
The sound system will be consolidated to fewer but better quality speakers.
The air conditioning will be upgraded, so that windows won’t have to be opened to cool the room.
Some of the doors on the patio will be replaced with windows.
What follows here are the highlights of comments from the public, with any corresponding replies from Francis Mairet (FM), or others:
Comment: There are quality of life issues for residents in the area – issues that require a greater police presence. FM: He only has certain options to address problems. However, he is happy to participate in the discussion and address problems where he can.
Comment: There should be a regulated sound standard that is enforced in the community. Businesses and operators need to be held to this standard. FM: He is not operating the pub yet, so he does not know if there is a problem but hopes he has addressed the issue in the redesign. Within the entire operations of the property, their living is made from the hotel component, not the pub.
Comment: The bad reputation of the Strathcona [Hotel] and Victoria Council’s inaction is being reflected in the response to this proposal. Shellie Gudgeon: Council needs to ensure that there’s more transit at night. Smoking will be an additional source of noise.
Comment: The resident manager and the Strata at The Falls have had success with working with the Strathcona [Hotel] in addressing the concerns of their residents. It is hoped that these discussions will continue and expand to include other operators in the area. The presence of police is often ineffectual as the one police vehicle parks on Courtney, west of Douglas, with a view of the front door of the Strath, but there are frequently problems on Courtney, east of Douglas, which are beyond the sight lines of the police vehicle. There needs to be an increased presence and patrolling.
Comment: Has an engineer been asked to provide noise reduction from the patio? FM: The redesign of the patio includes plans to move the water feature and increase the amount glass enclosing the space. The expectation is to have a better space, but it’s unknown if the noise will be reduced. This is a neighbourhood issue, not just an issue related to Bartholomew’s.
Comment: The issue of noise is very concerning to those living in residences above the patio space as the noise travels up from the street. It is suggested that the noise is not really an issue at street level. People are having to change their sleep schedules as the noise prohibits sleep. It is a concern that the proposal seeks to add more seating to the patio as the noise from the patio was already a problem. The decibel levels need to be monitored and enforced. Will patrons on the patio be moved inside at 11:00 pm? FM: There are currently no plans to close the patio until 1:00 am.
Charlayne Thornton-Joe: Until what time will food be served? It’s often noted that there needs to be more late night food service in the city. Late night transportation – buses and taxis – are also needed to move people out of the area at the end of the night. To address the bigger issues in the community, perhaps a meeting with the DRA, Humboldt Valley residents and operators and Chief Elsner would be productive. FM: Food will be served until 11:00 pm.
Comment: A breakdown of the current seating was provided, but what is the breakdown if the proposal is approved? FM: There will be a reduction of the total number of seats and while the seating in the Cafe currently closes at 3 pm, the entirety of the new seating area will be open from 9:00 am until 1:00 am. Comment: What is the occupancy and target market of property intended to be? FM: There will be 180 rooms with a target of 70% occupancy. The pub is intended to serve the transient population of the hotel while retaining a local presence. The hotel won’t be priced to target sports teams.
Shellie Gudgeon: Please email councillors with feedback and suggestions to deal with noise in the neighbourhood at email@example.com FM: Also contact Mark Hayden, Manager of Bylaw & Licensing at firstname.lastname@example.org
Solutions that were discussed included the following:
Adopt a bylaw to require outdoor patios to close at 11:00 pm.
Install rubber sleeves on garbage bins to reduce noise during collection.
Coordinate schedule of services in the area (garbage, deliveries, street cleaning, maintenance, etc.), so that there is a long duration of quiet through the late hours of the night