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'Dire situation': Nearly every Vancouver nightclub in danger of closing for good
VANCOUVER -- Calling it "a dire situation," the Hospitality Vancouver Association has issued a blunt warning about the future of the city's nightclubs.
“I don’t see a path for more than 10 per cent of clubs surviving without some sort of assistance,” said spokesperson Laura Ballance, who communicates with nearly every club owner in the city.
Thousands of employees have been laid off and no one knows when they’ll be back to work.
“We're sort of flying blind, so it's pretty scary to be honest.” said Cabana Nightclub owner Dave Kershaw,
There hasn’t been revenue for two months, ever since the clubs were shut down in mid-March as part of the province’s COVID-19 response.
But the bills still need to be paid.
Now, club owners across the city are having to make tough decisions: with no clear timeline on when they can re-open, is it worth pouring more money into a venture that may take years to turn a profit, if it ever does?
“I wrestle with that question every day,” admitted Kershaw. “Are we throwing good money after bad? If we have to pay full rent, basically everyone is done as of now.”
The federal government’s pandemic relief program will pay 75 per cent of commercial rent, but only if the landlord applies, not the tenant.
“We're not seeing a lot of landlords biting on it, and you know, frankly, that's very disappointing considering the extremely high rents in this city,” said Paul Stoilen, owner of several clubs, including Bar None.
The rent relief application involves a lot of paperwork and some landlords might find its legality intimidating.
Kershaw and Stoilen agreed there’s still a danger COVID-19 could spread in nightclubs, but are calling on the federal government for full rent relief and protection from eviction.
“Whether you like clubs or not, we contribute a significant amount to the economy of Vancouver,” argued Stoilen.
“This is a perfect storm of factors that could see the demise of an industry that’s so important to the city of Vancouver,” added Ballance.