Updated: Jun 21, 2021
Mayor Helps and Council City of Victoria No.1 Centennial Square Victoria, BC V8W 1P6
March 27, 2019
Re: 506-508 Herald St – Brew Pub – Further Comment
Dear Mayor Helps and Council,
Since submission of the DRA letter dated March 15th 2019 regarding the proposed brewpub at 506 Herald Street, we understand that the application had been referred back to staff to review both the 178-person capacity and opening hours extending until 2:00 am. Staff has since reiterated support for this application and it has returned to Council unchanged despite ongoing concerns repeatedly expressed by downtown residents and the DRA regarding the incompatibility of late-night drinking establishments inserted within established residential enclaves. There is an abundance of evidence that supports neighbourhood claims of degradation of liveability. The Strathcona Hotel’s impact on The Falls, and the Leiser Building – Lucky Bar conflicts are only two well- known examples and should serve as ample evidence for pause when considering mixing residents with late night drinking. Staff’s consistent and ongoing support for these types of applications is counterintuitive and counter to the objectives of the Strategic Plan to support “Strong, Liveable Neighbourhoods”.
The DRA also takes issue with Staff’s representation that previous public engagement through the CALUC process was considered “preliminary discussions”. To be clear these were not preliminary discussions as the applicant’s architect presented a full suite of plans and the applicant clearly stated commitments to a midnight closing and a 100- person occupancy load for the same business concept. Despite the likelihood of negative impacts with the current proposal, the applicant has not engaged the DRA to discus this revised application once rezoning for the proposed use was no longer necessary.
t needs to be pointed out that the proposed operating hours set this application aside from most others nearby such as Canoe, which closes at 11:00 pm most nights and is open until 1:00 am Friday and Saturday only. The Drake itself is only open to midnight. Both the Drake and Canoe serve meals while this proposal will serve “snacks”. Venues that are open until 2:00 am are “destination” establishments that draw patrons from outside the local area as well as other nearby venues as they close. Noise created by patrons arriving and leaving and behaviors that take place on the public right of way are technically beyond the control of the establishment that served the alcohol and cannot be mitigated. VicPD accurately assessed the situation in their comments “The proposed capacity of 178 seats is significant. The hours of operation are that of a nightclub. These hours draw late-night street disorder issues well into the early morning hours that will affect our service levels.”
The area north of Pandora and west of Douglas is already the densest residential enclave in Old Town and is continuing to grow as rapidly as the rest of Downtown to absorb the density desperately needed to house people and especially families that no other neighbourhood appears willing or able to provide. DRA LUC has calculated that there are over 600 existing residential units within 200m of the proposed application (with most barely outside the notification area for this application) and many more units under construction whose future owners will not have been informed of this application. The Pearl Condo will add 133 more units nearby and the new owners of the Ironworks will be no doubt be surprised that a 2:00 am drinking establishment has been inserted immediately next door to them. The ½ city block property directly across Herald Street will inevitably be developed in the near future adding hundreds more residential units in the immediate vicinity. The future viability and livability potential of this entire neighbourhood is at risk and requires thoughtful consideration by Council.
The DRA has a consistent record of supporting late night drinking establishments in the appropriate circumstances; both in protecting the interests of existing late night establishments and supporting new licenses that are proposed in areas with a low residential component. The DRA has also consistently expressed concerns when late night drinking establishments are proposed in predominantly residential areas and point out the profound negative impacts on livability these establishments consistently create. Despite these completely vindicated concerns expressed by neighbourhoods, staff recommendations are invariably to approve.
Licenses, once granted, continue in perpetuity. There is no licensing restriction or covenant offered in this case that restricts the proposed establishment from operating as a nightclub at anytime now or decades into the future. Council has little power to revise operating hours after the fact and needs to proceed with caution. We would point out to Council that the recently adopted Strategic Plan contains objectives for “Strong Livable Neighbourhoods” and that developing a Municipal Alcohol Policy in 2019 to address concerns, forms part of this objective. If Council is genuine in its desire to not degrade livability for all neighbourhoods including this one, it will restrict opening hours to midnight and reduce occupancy load of this proposed application until the Alcohol Policy committed to within the Strategic Plan is established and the applicant proves this location is capable of respecting its’ neighbours right to quiet enjoyment.
Ian Sutherland Chair Land Use Committee Downtown Residents Association