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Metro Studio reopens after safety complaint; Fringe Festival shows were cancelled on Tuesday

Aug 30 2012

Victoria slapped a no occupancy order on the Metro Studio at the close of business on Tuesday, forcing cancellation of three Victoria Fringe Theatre Festival shows scheduled for that night.

City officials say a bylaw officer acting on a citizen’s safety complaint — and apparently unaware that the Fringe was even on — issued the order on the theatre at 1411 Quadra St. about 4:20 p.m. Tuesday.

The order has since been lifted, but because city offices were closed, the theatre had no option but to cancel Tuesday night’s performances.

“The timing was unfortunate,” said Mayor Dean Fortin. “Our bylaw inspector, who I understand had no knowledge the Fringe was even on, responded to a complaint immediately and obviously had some concerns for life and safety.”

The theatre had, without a permit, installed risers and increased its seating capacity and had not added aisles to ensure occupants could safely exit during an emergency, said a statement issued by city communications director Katie Josephson.

Intrepid Theatre Company, which leases the space, had been notified several times over the past nine months of required safety measures and permits, the statement said.

The no occupancy order was lifted Wednesday morning after representatives of Intrepid Theatre met with city officials outlining immediate measures to comply with the building code and submitted an application for increased occupancy and tiered seating, Josephson said.

The theatre company agreed to have a structural engineer review the capacity of the seating and to remove a number of seats to ensure there was adequate aisle space.

Intrepid Theatre general manager Heather Lindsay said they hoped the cancelled shows could be rescheduled. Pre-sold tickets were refunded on the spot.

Lindsay said the application for the new risers “is in process.”

The back section of the risers needs to be secured, which should take only a few days of work, Lindsay said.

“We’ve now simply been able to section off that back section of risers,” she said.

The cancelled shows were Hanafuda Denki: A Tale of Playing Cards, by the Ryuzanji Company of Japan; Homewrecker Hot Dogs: The Hillbilly Hip-Hopera, by Edmonton’s Plays With Words Theatre; and Temple of Khaos: A Modern Myth, by Daniel Nimmo of Toronto.

Cole Peterson, writer of Homewrecker Hot Dogs, said the impromptu closure couldn’t have happened at a worse time. Publicity is difficult for a rescheduled show and a cancelled show makes recouping costs difficult.

Fortin said the city expedited its process to help ensure the theatre could re-open for the Fringe.

“As the City of Victoria, we really support the Fringe Festival. We’re big sponsors,” Fortin said. “We want to make sure we can get this venue open as fast as possible but at the same time we want to make sure it’s safe for people going in there.”


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