By Heidi Bevington–A martini bar in Queen Charlotte would be a good thing according to most people who commented on a recent liquor license application.
Thirty-nine people commented in person, by letter or phone to the management committee about the proposal.
Dawn Geddes and Morgan Bristol, owners of On The Rock in Queen Charlotte, explained their plan to the QC Management Committee at a public meeting September 21.
On The Rock, located in the old legion building, is a T-shaped building, explained Mr. Bristol at the beginning of the meeting. In the south east wing, the owners propose to open a martini bar with a lounge atmosphere. Their application to the liquor control board is for a primary liquor license that allows them to serve alcohol without food, although food will be available. The application would allow for a maximum of 140 people in the bar, open until 2 am, seven days a week.
However, Mr. Bristol and Ms Geddes say they plan to open the bar only Thursday, Friday and Saturday from noon to 11 pm. The Liquor Control and Licensing Branch that manages these applications had advised them to apply for the maximum the license would allow in case they wanted to change anything later, but they assured the people present they had no interest in opening a full time bar.
The eleven people who attended the meeting all praised Mr. Bristol and Ms Geddes for their previous businesses. The martini bar would be an asset to the community, said Evelyn von Almassey, a draw for tourists and a pleasant place to enjoy a drink.
The management committee received 27 letters and one phone call about the proposal, said meeting chair Carol Kulesha. The majority supported the idea, but a couple of people expressed concern about noise, increased drinking in the community and the impact on already existing businesses.
The meeting ended at 8 pm and most people left. During the regular management committee meeting that followed four committee members discussed the issue further since they will make recommendations to the regional district.
All committee members present agreed that they liked the proposal, but Ron McKee said he had some concern about the difference between their proposal and the actual application. The limited hours of operation proposed mean that the new bar would likely not disturb the neighbours.
However, the application allows for much more, he said, and there is nothing to prevent them from opening more days and longer hours. Even if they never expanded the business’s hours of operation, they could sell it to someone who would. The management committee’s recommendations has to be based on the actual application, not the proposal described by Mr. Bristol and Ms Geddes.
Mark Salzl argued that since a similar establishment, the legion, had been operating in the same place recently, the proposal seemed all right. “It’s a reasonable proposal. Even if it was the maximum it would be reasonable still,” he said.
The application doesn’t sufficiently reflect the applicants’ purpose, said Mr. McKee and he asked that that be made clear in the management committee’s recommendation to the regional district.
The potential for late night noise in a partly residential area was what most concerned Mr. McKee, but public works superintendent Victor La Boucane pointed out another potential problem-traffic and parking. According to the community plan, a new establishment must have a certain number of parking spaces, said Mr. La Boucane.
With the business open from noon until 11 pm, Mr. La Boucane saw the potential for seriously increased traffic congestion in an already crowded area. Mr. Salzl said that there hadn’t been a problem with parking in the area when the legion operated there.
The discussion then moved to whether the martini bar would pose a threat to other businesses.
“This community supports eight restaurants. I haven’t heard that any of them are struggling. In fact they support each other I’m sure,” said committee chair Anne Mountifield. “One liquor venue might not appeal to all people. Variety would be good.” The other committee members agreed that competition could be a good thing for the community.
The letters, public comments and management committee discussion will all be forwarded to the regional district, which will make a recommendation to the Liquor Control and Licensing Branch.
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