A local restaurant owner’s application to serve food and alcohol until 2 a.m. has been met with resistance from the Terrace RCMP which says it won’t be able to keep up with the increased alcohol-related calls in the downtown core.
The owner of Wings Tap and Grill, Evan van Dyk, told city council March 14 he wants an amended BC Liquor Control and Licensing Branch licence so he can stay open past midnight to provide a late night place for people to hang out, something lacking in the downtown core.
“We have guests who will go to a late showing of a movie and will have no other options downtown. We have been reached out to by WestJet – pilots and stewardesses can’t find a place to eat.”
He said that the restaurant, which opened last month in the Skeena Mall, has 16 screens constantly playing sporting events from around the globe, in a diverse array of time zones, which means staying open an extra two hours would be a boon for those wanting to see, for example, cricket or rugby games being aired overseas.
The March 14 council meeting was the opportunity for members of the public and neighbouring businesses to give their opinion on the wanted licence amendment.
No one did make presentations but the Terrace RCMP detachment submitted its response in a written statement.
“Not supportive of all 7 weekdays until 2 a.m. No 2 a.m. on any weekday. Food primary business appropriate to remain 12 a.m. comparable to other establishments,” said the detachment’s written response.
“The RCMP anticipates that this application will cause a negative impact on the community as they currently deal with a significant number of liquor-related incidents in the downtown, and this application might further stress their resources and capacity in the late evenings,” a report written by city officials for council members added.
Councillor Lynne Christiansen said she took the RCMP’s opinion seriously. “Personally, I have to say that when the RCMP come back with a statement… it weighs pretty heavy with me,” she said.
Other city councillors were less worried but the fact that van Dyk said that several of his patrons will leave their vehicles overnight in the mall parking lot if they have been drinking did raise some questions for Michael Prevost with regards to just how many vehicles that might be.
Councillor Brian Downie suggested a compromise for closing time, or the number of days a week the establishment would be open later.
“I do have some concerns about alcohol in the downtown core,” added councillor Stacey Tyers. “Based on… the social impact we see… and quite often the homeless people get blamed for it but it is more often 20-something-year-olds drinking to excess in the downtown.”
Councillors Sean Bujtas and James Cordeiro said that when it comes to worries about problematic drunken activity late at night, that this is already a problem downtown and that businesses should not be restricted by a pre-existing problem that has nothing to do with their own establishments.
“I just wouldn’t want to see someone penalized while they are not the perpetrator for where the problem is coming from, unless there is a real rationale that Wings is going to contribute to the problem,” said Cordeiro.
“I don’t want to penalize a downtown business,” said Bujtas, adding that at Chances Casino, where he is manager, RCMP calls are at a minimum in the late evening hours.
City officials will meet again with the RCMP before city council considers and votes on a resolution concerning the application, something that will happen at an April council meeting.
That resolution will then be sent to the BC Liquor Control and Licensing Branch for a decision.