White Rock council has taken the suggestion of Coun. Bill Lawrence to send an application for a proposed liquor-license amendment back to city staff – to see if a compromise can be reached between the business owner and surrounding uptown condo residents.
“We don’t want to put White Rock in the no-fun zone,” Lawrence said following a public hearing Monday evening.
The application, for the Bin 101 Wine and Tapas Bar at 1434 Johnston Rd., would amend the existing license to allow patron participation entertainment – in this case a 10-metre-by-10-metre dance floor – and extend the potential hours of liquor service to 1 a.m. seven days a week (although dancing, under regulations, would only be permitted until midnight except on New Year’s Eve).
Under BC Liquor Control and Licensing Branch regulations, a request for a permanent change to an existing liquor license needs a supporting resolution from the local council.
The decision to defer a resolution came following a public hearing in which council heard from a steady stream of residents – most of them from the adjacent Saltaire condo development – who said they feared the noise impact from an approval of dancing and extended hours, suggesting that this would transform the restaurant into a “nightclub” yards from their bedroom and living-room windows.
Among residents of Saltaire who spoke was former White Rock bar owner Tony Veltri.
“I have been doing this for 51 years (in) the bar business – I love the bar business,” said Veltri, who owned the Ocean Beach Hotel on Marine Drive prior to it becoming The Hemingway.
Bin 101, he said, is the wrong location for a nightclub.
“There is no place to smoke, no place to park – nobody wants to live above a nightclub. If they want a nightclub, they should move some other place.”
Other residents said they had already experienced noise late at night from Bin 101, and that some do shift work, which means that undisturbed rest is important to them. Others said they would be forced to move if the amendment was approved.
Bin 101 owner Terry Armisana countered objections by saying the dance floor had been requested by patrons, and that the establishment offers primarily piano bar entertainment, with a patron base in the 40-to-60 age range.
He added it would be unlikely the option to stay open until 1 a.m. would be used most nights.
While council members acknowledged objections, they also noted the restaurant – and the condos – are located in an urbanized uptown area due for increased highrise development.
Lawrence, former co-owner of the now-defunct Sandpiper Pub on Marine Drive, said “there needs to be a level of assurance of what is going to be happening in the establishment.”
“It is a town centre,” Coun. Helen Fathers said, adding she heard nothing in the proposal that suggested Bin 101 intended to become a nightclub.
“If we are going to have more density, we have to have more places that are kind of like this.”
Both Couns. Grant Meyer and David Chesney said they had no issues with the application but favoured finding a compromise.
While Coun. Megan Knight said she was “more on the side of the neighbours right now” she said “it would be nice if we could come up with a happy medium on this.”
Council already received a preliminary recommendation from acting planning and development services manager Greg St. Louis endorsing the application.
“Licensed establishments that include participatory entertainment opportunities are part of a vibrant and livable town centre area that is centrally located, within walking distance of higher population densities, and has access to…public transit, taxis, etc.,” he wrote.
While it is possible for staff to report back in time for the May 6 council meeting, St. Louis noted that an extension to the May 8 deadline for submitting a resolution to BCLCB might have to be extended.
Mayor Wayne Baldwin suggested this be applied for.
“It’s worth taking a little longer to do it right,” he said.