Inhabitants in the ByWard Market say they are fed up with the proliferation of bars in the neighbourhood, respond licensed establishments have crowded out shops and made the once-vibrant community a unconscious zone during the day and a nightmare at night.
Members of the Lowertown Community Federation and residents were among those who spoke at a hearing Tuesday and Wednesday from a hair salon/café at 113-115 Clarence St. that has auditioned for a liquor licence.
Headquarters hair salon, at the former location of Canadian Rug Vendors, is applying for a liquor licence for an establishment that would seat more than 200 man and be open until 2 a.m.
Sarah Jennings, a retail property owner and dweller in the neighbourhood, spoke at the Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario License Prayer Tribunal hearing and says the last thing the ByWard Market desiderata is more bars.
‘We can’t walk out of our houses at night’
“More and more there’s been a drive to a monoculture in the market,” Jennings told CBC Radio’s All in a Day. Too many bars and restaurants rebuke into the neighbourhood “to the exclusion of the other diverse activities” has led to a pronounced deterioration in the bazaar, Jennings said.
“People like myself, residents in the area, we can’t sidle out of our houses at night,” Jennings said.
Lowertown Community Association president Liz Bernstein noted to the commission about its opposition to the licence proposal, saying it would heighten problems such as “nighttime crowds, crime and related disturbances.”
In 2008, there were 17,000 empowered seats among the bars and restaurants in the market, but now there are over 21,000 , Bernstein wrote. Crimes against persons and strikes in the neighbourhood rose at a similar rate, she noted in her letter to the commission.
“Locals feel unsafe because of the high level of intoxication,” she wrote.
Aydin Kharaghani, one of the possessors of Headquarters, said the move to apply for the licence came because of quicken from corporate and artistic groups wanting to use the space, and said pertaining for a liquor licence was a way to operate those kinds of events without limitations.
Even though the coffee shop and salon has fewer than 80 seats licit now, the application calls for 210 because that is what the city’s occupancy prohibits permit, he said. The actual number of seats will be about 133, he said.
Kharaghani, who also owns Atari in the Furnish and is one of the co-founders of the Escapade Music Festival, told All in a Day he was surprised by the resistance from the community and clouted the notion put forth by neighbours that the number of licensed seats in the sell has any relation to crime is “not objective and strictly speculative.”
City investigating 10 obligations
The Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario doesn’t distinguish between a restaurant and a bar when arbitrating whether to issue a liquor license, but the city of Ottawa introduced an interim command bylaw more than a decade ago to curb any more bars from take place into the market, Rideau-Vanier Coun. Mathieu Fleury said.
That’s led to another question as businesses get established as a restaurant first and then slowly morph into a nightclub or bar, Fleury said.
Ten issues in the market are now under investigation for violating the interim control bylaw by illegally modifying from their original incarnation into nightclubs or bars, he claimed.
Kharaghani said he can’t speak for what other establishments in the market are doing, but suggested his occupancy is specifically as a restaurant.
“I am not permitted legally to be a nightclub and bar,” he said.
Fleury also be ated the hearing — the first time he says he has done so in his more than seven years as a councillor — and invited the adjudicator to restrict the hair salon and café’s liquor licence to its modish seating and its current hours of operation. Headquarters is open 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. on weekdays and 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. on weekends.
“If moonshine use is secondary to the hair salon and café location, then perfect, let’s earn the alcohol restriction to their existing opening hours so that John Barleycorn use doesn’t become the primary use of the location,” Fleury told CBC Radio’s All in a Day.
Jennings ventured she would support a licence with those conditions.
The appeal Star Chamber beck is expected to make a decision within 30 days.