By David F. Rooney
City Councillors, reluctant to buck a petition with 110 names on it, voted against granting a liquor licence to a wine bar planned for Second Street East on Tuesday.
“It’s a great concept but that’s not what we are being asked to decide,” Councillor Peter Frew said as he explained why he was reluctantly voting against a licence for Benoit’s Wine Bar, which is being built in the old Spice O’ Life space at 107 Second Street East.
Frew said he was troubled by the fact that the licence would allow the owner of the bar to change it from a wine bar to one that serves hard liquor and beer any time he wanted.
Other Councillors also suggested that was problematic during a discussion that was overshadowed by a 100-signature petition initiated by Antonietta Crisanti. In her petition she claimed her concerns “of another ‘BAR’ in town is as follows:
- “The noise and especially late at night — This will be year round and What are the hours of this business?
- “Property damage
- “The garbage that will be left in the streets, concerns of cigarette butts and a possible fire
- “Parking is another concern, where do the patrons plan on parking? (there is limited parking at this time downtown)”
Councillors Chris Johnston and Steve Bender supported the licence application with Johnston, who lives a block away saying adults over 25 who want a civilized evening out don’t have many options.
“I think this is a different market (that the usual pub and bar crowd),” he said.
Mrs. Crisanti’s claims to the contrary, Benoit’s Wine Bar could have offered those people a place to go for a glass of wine without putting up with the gong shows you occasionally find at some of the city’s seven other regular pubs and bars where beer and hard liquor are the mainstays. As for parking, a City report noted there is adequate parking in the area. In fact, there’s plenty of it in the City-owned parking lot a block away on First Street East and the report also noted that the bar, which would have a maximum capacity of 60 people “would not negatively affect traffic patterns.”
The petitioners’ claims to the contrary, no one in the RCMP, the Fire Department, Public Works or Bylaw Enforcement expressed any concerns about the wine bar proposal.
And why should they? As Ardelle Hynes noted in a letter to the City supporting the wine bar, “concerns about rowdiness are misplaced I think as a bar offering wine starting at $6 a glass appeals to a different demographic than a pub offering $12 pitchers of beer.”
For his part, Bender said shooting down the application could be viewed as a discouragement for other new businesses.
Mayor David Raven agrees, saying that it was “a tough decision” for Council that “will be sending a funny message” to potential business owners. Even so, he said he “wasn’t swayed by it being a high-brow wine bar” and wondered if it would “bring more social ills” to the city.
The wine bar wasn’t the only proposal that was shot down by Council on Tuesday. An offer by BC Hydro to demolish the badly deteriorated boat ramp at Centennial Park and replace it with a new one this year was rejected — at least for now.
Councillors did not appreciate the tone of the letter from Alan Chan-McLeod, Hydro’s manager of WLR Physical Works, who said Hydro was ready to start in early May. Chris Johnston best expressed Council’s mood this way: “What we get from BC Hydro is a letter saying it’s a done deal and we’re starting next week.”
Peter Frew said that since the ramp is on City property “it would be nice” if BC Hydro had first asked for a meeting with the City, then outlined its plans and the residents’ feedback it claims to have.
Antoinette Halberstadt proposed a motion rejecting Hydro’s offer. “I don’t want my motion being taken as an outright prohibition,” she said. “I understand they want to do it in the spring. Well, perhaps next spring would be just fine.”
Council also refused to grant outright approval to a Revelstoke Snowmobile Club proposal to build a gift shop and greeting centre at “the ideal location of the Boulder Mountain parking lot.”
The idea was referred to municipal staff for further study.”
On a more positive note, Council voted four to one (Councillor Tony Scarcella was the sole opponent) to approve Bylaw 1963, which will allow secondary suites within areas that are zoned R1 for single-family homes.
Council made the decision after a public hearing Tuesday afternoon at which it heard from proponents and opponents of the bylaw.
“I am generally in support of secondary suites as I believe densification rather than sprawl is the way to go,” said Kevin Lavelle in an e-mail to Council.
That attitude was generally supported by many of the other 12 letters Council received on this issue. But of course not everyone did support it.
Randy and Carol Knecht of Columbia Park worried that allowing secondary suites in R1 districts was “only going to open a can of worms.”
Unhappy with the way many homes in their neighbourhood have been transformed into vacation homes they wanted the City to somehow “return our R1 zones to residential single family dwelling.”
Another semi-opponent of the bylaw, Robert Powadiuk, said his main beef was that the bylaw would allow secondary suites to be as large as 960 square feet, which he claimed was enough for a three bedroom home in Toronto.
In the end, though, Council approved the bylaw as it was written.
Concerned about youths who use intoxicants? City Council voted to approve a recommendation from staff that it write letters to Premier Gordon Campbell, Attorney general Michael de Jong and MLA Norm Macdonald stating its support for the Family Court & Youth Justice Committee which is campaigning to allow the detention and involuntary detoxification of youths between the ages of 12 and 17.
The arrest and involuntary detox treatment of teens will only be undertaken if they are at roisk of harming themselves or others, need confinement to ensure the safety of themselves or others, need confinement to “assist with detoxification and stabilization” and/or are “refusing access to voluntary treatment.”
These at-risk teens will only be scooped, detained and detoxified if an addictions specialist, two physicians or addictions specialists agree that is in their best interest.
City Council has agreed to a request form Community Connections that it provide free bus passes to clients who require transportation in order to access services.
Council said it would authorize 100 transit passes.