An influx of last-minute comments regarding an application to boost the licensed capacity of a Marine Drive pub prompted White Rock council to defer a decision on the matter to next month.
In encouraging council to hold off, Mayor Wayne Baldwin cited “a fair amount of late information” received from the public regarding the application by owners of the Sandpiper Pub.
The proponents – one of them Coun. Bill Lawrence – have asked the Liquor Control and Licensing Branch to nearly double the 15595 Marine Dr. establishment’s licensed capacity, to 115 patrons from 65.
Following comment from White Rock fire and police officials, city staff recommended the increase be capped at 110 (plus seven employees).
At a public hearing Monday – held prior to the regular council meeting – four people spoke to the application; of those, three voiced opposition.
David Bradshaw, noting he paid $1.4 million in November for a home located behind the pub, spoke vehemently against boosting the capacity.
“For the last eight months… I’ve heard nothing but swearing and fighting,” he said, describing the pub as “not a good neighbour.”
Bradshaw said he would prefer to see the Sandpiper operate as a restaurant, or be demolished.
“I just got a tax bill for $7,400 and I’m not getting my money’s worth,” he said.
Victoria Avenue resident Glen Jones told council he is concerned that expanding the licensed capacity will only exasperate early-morning noise that residents who live in the area already deal with when the pub closes.
“We get significantly disrupted,” he said.
Speaking in favour of the application, Heather Hildred told council the increase would benefit the community by bringing more people – and thereby business – to the area.
“Most of those (waterfront) businesses are dead during the winter and that’s a real shame,” she said.
Hildred, who said she moved to White Rock last August, described the pub as a “well-run and professional establishment” with “a lot more room for individuals to come inside.”
The noise residents complain about comes mainly from those waiting in line to get in, she added.
City clerk Tracey Arthur said 87 written comments regarding the application were received prior to the meeting, with 81 indicating support for the application. Thirty-one of the written submissions, however, did not include the writer’s address or city of residence.
Lawrence, after seeking input from Baldwin regarding conflict of interest, excused himself from the public hearing.
One council watcher, Pat Petrala, contacted Peace Arch News with concerns after Lawrence posted an appeal on his Facebook account for people to support the application.
“Tired of waiting in line at the Piper… make your voice heard!” Lawrence’s message reads. “See you this Monday night and bring some friends… Big party at the Piper afterwards!”
Petrala described receiving the “lobby” prompt as “disconcerting.”
“Is this standard council behaviour?” she writes.
Arthur told PAN the city received one email concerned with the tact, but that there is nothing prohibiting the practice.
While Lawrence cannot participate in any vote or discussion on the matter, such appeals are not addressed in the Community Charter or Local Government Act.
“It’s up to the individual,” she said.
Council is to consider whether to support the application at its next regular meeting, scheduled for July 15. The final decision will be made by the LCLB.