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Permanent expansion of pub's outdoor patio space approved by City of Powell River Council

Votes in favour of permanently reducing the parking at Wildwood Public House to provide the outdoor space were unanimous
VARIANCE PERMIT: Wildwood Public House applied to make its temporary expanded service area, or patio, permanent. City of Powell River council voted in favour of relaxing parking requirements so the patio can operate.

City of Powell River councillors have approved a development variance permit to facilitate permanent expansion of a licenced outdoor patio space at Wildwood Public House.

At the March 17 council meeting, councillors voted to vary the city’s zoning bylaw to reduce the required number of off-street parking spaces from 22 to 15 to facilitate expansion of the patio.

According to a staff report, the pub was granted a temporary expanded service area during the COVID-19 pandemic to expand the patio by an additional 30 seats. The pub has applied for a permanent structural change to the liquor licence for the expanded patio space and is pursuing a relaxation of off-street parking requirements to facilitate the expansion, the staff report stated.

At the meeting, Glen Hudson, who lives in close proximity to the pub, expressed concerns about its operation.

“We’ve been dealing with issues at the pub for the last 15 or 20 years,” said Hudson. “The noise levels have gone up. I sent a letter to council the other day. I’ve had to quite often call the RCMP to come up at different times of the night to address the problem.”

Hudson said he’d gone to the bylaw control office at city hall about noise bylaws and asked them to tell the pub’s proprietors there is a noise bylaw for amplified music.

“Well, they start their bands at 8 pm and they go on, sometimes, until 2 am,” said Hudson.

He said the patio has large speakers and he’s directly affected.

“Sound comes right across the street, and it just thump, thump, thumps,” said Hudson. “At night, if there is a band, my wife and I put earplugs in. We’re in our late 70s. I don’t think it’s a good idea to go to sleep with earplugs in because if there’s a problem, you just don’t hear it.”

Hudson said his driveway has been blocked by pub patrons. He’s put cones up but they’ve been taken away, he added. There have also been men and women urinating in his yard, according to Hudson.

Bylaw covers noise, says councillor

Councillor Rob Southcott said noise is definitely covered by a city bylaw and it is true that it takes at least two complainants to have it actioned.

“I would be surprised if you couldn’t find someone else to complain if that was the case,” said Southcott.

Hudson said his neighbour has also complained.

Southcott said council is considering the permanent expansion of the patio, not the concerns about the noise.

“The licence was already granted but it doesn’t have anything to do directly with the noise,” said Southcott. “It has to do with reducing the number of parking spaces. Maybe, your concerns need to be readdressed. I suggest that you get back to staff here to approach your concerns that you are bringing to us tonight.”

Councillor Maggie Hathaway said the pub’s operators have been advised that the patio will be open no later than 10 pm.

“I’m sure we could have a word with them through bylaws about speakers outside and noise levels, and that they need to be inside at 10 pm,” said Hathaway. “They’ve committed to that and hopefully they’ll stand by their commitment.”

Councillor George Doubt said his understanding of the recommendation before council is that it makes permanent the temporary arrangement that’s been in place during COVID-19. He said the application does not reduce the number of parking spaces from what is there today and it doesn’t expand the patio to a larger area than it was before.

“It merely makes it permanent,” said Doubt. “All of the neighbours within the prescribed distance were notified by mail. I think this is reasonable.”

Doubt said he was willing to support the recommendation. He said the noise bylaw can be applied at the pub if it’s in contravention, but he thinks the changes to the patio are not going to be harmful and that the pub is a valuable asset to have in the neighbourhood.

Council voted unanimously in favour of permanently reducing the parking to provide space for the patio.

Council also voted in favour of a recommendation for approval of the liquor and cannabis regulation branch structural change application by the Wildwood pub to make the temporary expanded service area a permanently expanded licensed patio with an increase in capacity from 15 to 45 people. The city also opted out of providing comment.