Public hearings into applications made by The Vault Venue and Restaurant to City of Powell River’s committee of the whole on Tuesday, July 4, are likely to take place, according to city director of planning Thomas Knight.
Vault owner Amy Sharp asked for a patron-participation endorsement and a uniform extension of her establishment’s business hours at the meeting. Her business’ hours were initially extended last July.
Sharp said the public hearing process for her latest request would cost local taxpayers money.
“The $2,000 fee I would pay would be going to pay for the public hearing costs such as signage and advertising,” said Sharp. “The city would still have to pay for their staff and council time to prepare, manage and report on the public hearing. It would be a notable cost for the city to incur.”
Knight said Sharp’s presentation caused confusion among committee members and caught him off guard. He added that he went before the committee with information received from the applicant solely on the question of patron participation, which, in the case of the Vault, means dancing to live or amplified music.
According to Sharp, customers cannot dance at The Vault because the liquor licence does not include a patron-participation endorsement.
While Sharp brought two issues before the committee, it was patron participation Knight was expecting to answer the committee’s questions on, not an extension of The Vault’s hours of operation.
“The basic information was she would like to change patron participation,” said Knight. “There was no discussion about changing hours or anything.”
Knight said Sharp’s initial submission did not lead him to believe the patron participation request would require the city to hold public hearings.
Based on the information on hand, Knight said there was no reason for a full survey that can cost $2,000. Instead, he said the city should opt out of the process, send the request to BC Liquor Regulation and Licensing Branch and let it consider the application more fully.
“They’re required by law to then consider what type of public engagement they want to do at their cost,” said Knight. “That was it.”
According to Sharp, that was not it. She said she went before the committee also seeking an extension of The Vault’s hours of operation, which are different from the serving hours on the liquor licence.
“My business licence is restricted to being open until 10 pm on Sunday to Wednesday, 11 pm on Thursday, and midnight on Friday and Saturday,” she said, “and my liquor licence says to midnight every night.”
Sharp said she wants the hours of operation, which are set by the city, to reflect the liquor licence.
According to Knight, the two issues, one he had been expecting and one he had not, put him in a position where he had to change his recommendation on the fly because the committee had new information.
Knight said the committee had his first report, Sharp’s presentation, the amendment to his recommendation as well as information Sharp had distributed to committee members by email prior to the meeting.
“It was all over the map,” said Knight.
With patron participation and hours of operation combined, Knight said he felt it necessary to have public input due to the impact the changes could have on the community.
Hearings will ascertain what local concerns are and that information will be sent back to council to form and send a resolution to the regulation and licensing branch, he added.
“That’s going to cost me $2,000 to have a whole gong show,” said Sharp, “to see if I should be able to let people dance in my place of business.”