Opinion

EDITORIAL: Challenges of urbanization

The recent decision by White Rock council to endorse an application for a liquor-licence extension for an uptown restaurant highlights a battle that will likely be replayed as the small seaside city-that-was evolves into an increasingly urbanized environment.

Bin 101 Wine & Tapas Bar had applied to the BC Liquor Control and Licensing Branch for the amendment to allow ‘patron participation entertainment’ – specifically a 10-metre-by-10-metre floor for dancing – and extend the possible hours of liquor service to 1 a.m. all week.

Owner Terry Armisana said patrons had asked if dancing could be added to the enjoyment of the restaurant’s primarily piano lounge style entertainment. And while he said he would likely take advantage of the extended liquor service hours on Friday and Saturday nights, he viewed the extension for other nights as an option to provide service for private bookings.

Because such a licence extension requires input from the local council and population, White Rock gave due notice to nearby residents and scheduled a public hearing.

And that’s when it heard – mainly from residents of the adjacent Saltaire highrise condo development – that an extended licence would be tantamount to turning Bin 101 into a nightclub and, presumably, signalling the arrival of the Apocalypse, in the form of smokers and partiers spilling out onto the streets in the wee hours.

With all due respect to these residents – who are as entitled as anyone else to undisturbed rest and repose – that is what bylaw enforcement officers and the RCMP are charged with maintaining. If Bin 101 breaches regulations, it can expect the full weight of enforcement.

But what does one expect when one moves into a highrise in an increasingly urbanized town centre area? The promise of more higher-density development, including the concluding phase of Bosa’s Miramar Village, will complete the reality of a big-city streetscape.

Do we really imagine that we can seek to prohibit or curtail the entertainments of a city beyond the limits already provided by the law? The rise in leases prompted by speculation and increasing development already threaten the extinction of the city’s more colourful and vibrant businesses, turning White Rock into a virtual ‘ghost town’ at sidewalk level.

As Coun. Bill Lawrence said, “we don’t want to put White Rock in the no-fun zone.”

And those who embrace White Rock’s rush to urbanization must be aware that they can’t have their cake and eat it too.

 

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