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Roxy’s bid to serve alcohol put on hold

Nov 09 2012
Michael Sharpe, owner of the Roxy theatre, wants the province to change its liquor licencing laws so that he can serve to the 19-plus audience in the evenings  in Victoria, B.C. January  24, 2012. 

Michael Sharpe, owner of the Roxy theatre, wants the province to change its liquor licencing laws so that he can serve to the 19-plus audience in the evenings in Victoria, B.C. January 24, 2012.

Photograph by: LYLE STAFFORD , TIMES COLONIST

Victoria council will decide in two weeks whether to approve the Roxy Classic Theatre’s bid to serve liquor at its Quadra Street location.

On Thursday, council heard from about 10 people who spoke at a public hearing, with slightly more in favour than against.

After the hearing, councillors asked staff to bring forward a resolution in support of the application, but won’t make a decision until they have received written minutes of the hearing and all written submissions.

The Roxy, which is operated by Vogue Amusements Ltd., is the first local theatre to apply for a liquor primary licence since the B.C. government in April relaxed provincial regulations banning alcohol from being served at venues that screen films.

In making the application, Roxy owner Michael Sharpe said allowing liquor to be served would help independent single-screen theatres survive.

Coun. Ben Isitt, who lives in the neighbourhood, said he supported the bid “to help a mom-and-pop theatre,” despite the concerns raised.

Resident Ruby Black expressed concerns about people spilling out drunk from the theatre, as well as the range of events that could be held there. Concerns were also raised about the lack of parking.

Supporters included former nightclub manager Paul Seal, who called the prospect of a new, moderately priced, mid-sized performance venue in Victoria exciting.

Seal didn’t think people would spill out drunk after shows. He also said there was unlikely to be a problem with underage drinkers. “Underagers don’t buy $25 concert tickets and $7 beers,” he said.

City staff expected the application to generate considerable interest and councillors voted in October to hold a public hearing.

Councillors received one letter from residents in the neighbourhood opposed to the application. They were worried that serving liquor in the theatre could encourage unruly behaviour in Quadra Village. More than a dozen letters supporting the application were received.

There were no concerns about the application from police, bylaw enforcement or city engineering staff.

Under the Roxy’s initial application, the maximum hours of liquor service would be from

5 p.m. to midnight on Sunday to Thursday, and 5 p.m. to 1 a.m. on Friday and Saturday. However, council recommended tightening up those hours to allow liquor service between 5 p.m. and 11 p.m., seven days a week. Sharpe agreed to the change.

Council will forward its position on the liquor application to B.C.’s Liquor Control and Licensing Branch. Local governments are consulted on issues such as noise and community impact.

If the licence is granted, only adults would be allowed in the theatre when liquor is available. Anyone served alcohol would need a ticket to that event.

The Roxy’s capacity (lobby and auditorium) is 447 people.

bcleverley@timescolonist.com

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