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Shows cancelled due to safety concerns at theatre near Vancouver encampment

A local funk band says a venue in Vancouver's Downtown Eastside cancelled the booking for an upcoming show because the sidewalk outside has become part of the Hastings Street homeless encampment.

Soulstream drummer Randall Stoll booked their Oct. 8 show at The Imperial back in March, and says MRG Live, the company that manages the venue, emailed him a few days ago to say it could no longer host.

”Imperial contacted me and said because the homelessness and the violence is right on their doorstep, they didn’t feel it was safe for their staff, the artists or the clients coming in, so they stopped having all events,” said Stoll.

There are now multiple tents and needle collection bins just steps from The Imperial's entrance, which is a block from Hastings and Main. Stoll said when he posted about the show’s cancellation on the band’s Facebook page, some fans were relieved.

“They weren’t looking forward to standing out there waiting for a cab and not feeling safe,” said Stoll, who has stopped going to restaurants in the area because the environment has become toxic.

Jeff Guignard with the Alliance of Beverage Licensees says this should serve as a wake-up call for all levels of government.

“No matter what you think about the complex causes of these issues, we really feel that citizens should be seriously concerned for what it means for a place like Vancouver when a business says it can no longer operate safely in the city,” he said.

While The Imperial is the first live venue to close because of safety concerns, Guignard is worried it won’t be the last.

“Our concern is this is the canary in the coal mine, and this is going to expand and we will see more venues doing this,” he said. “From an industry perspective, this is very serious, and it needs to be addressed urgently.”

Soulstream is now looking for a new venue and working on refunding people who bought tickets to the show at the Imperial.

“I think it’s sad for all the artists, all the business, and obviously for the people that are down there suffering,” said Stoll. “It’s a sad story, no matter how you look at it.” Top Stories

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