Will changes to liquor policies, noise bylaws help fix Granville Strip?
City councillors have voted in favour of a proposal meant to bring a new crowd to an area of Vancouver known for binge drinking and violence.
The Granville Street Strip has long had a reputation for large crowds of young club-goers, sirens, flashing lights and suspects in handcuffs. But on Wednesday the city approved a plan that could have a positive effect on the area.
The changes start with the sidewalk, where more patio licences could draw people to the strip at different times of day.
Updates to the city's liquor policy will allow those located in the Granville Entertainment District to apply for licensed patios. Of the 21 businesses currently serving liquor in the area, the city estimates between six and 10 will be approved for an outdoor patio.
"Making Granville Street less one-dimensional and opening it up to other types of businesses – patios – is absolutely the right step in the right direction," said Paul Stoilen of the Donnelly Group, owners of 15 bars and restaurants in the city.
Council also voted to amend local noise bylaws to allow bars and restaurants to host live music until 1 a.m., hoping that the change will provide opportunities to diversify Granville Street's offerings.
Hoping to bring in those interested in arts and culture, galleries, cultural non-profits and art dealers will be permitted to sell and serve alcohol to patrons during business hours up until 11 p.m.
To try to cut back on binge drinking, liquor establishments will now be required to post drink sizes and strengths, though they have three months to implement the changes and have flexibility in how the information will be presented. Vancouver is the first municipality in B.C. to put the policy in action.
And the city is looking to Europe for inspiration for the Granville facelift.
A nightlife council will be established, the first step toward creating a position similar to that of Amsterdam's "night mayor" Mirik Milan. The person filling that role will act as a liason between city staff, bar owners and other businesses open late.
"I don't want to say you need to install a night mayor," said Milan.
"But what you need to do is work together across sectors and look at the DNA of your city. Look at the DNA of Vancouver, and what are solutions that work here."
The city is also working with the Vancouver Police Department to evaluate whether fines for fighting should be increased.
But council opted not to approve the previously discussed proposal to install 25 new security cameras, a project with a $400,000 price tag.
Non-Partisan Association Coun. George Affleck has been fighting to install CCTV camera on Granville for months, and brought forward the proposal in February, about a month after the death of an employee at Cabana nightclub.
"Until we get more transit down there, we have a lot of problems late at night with people hanging around and not being able to get out," he said Wednesday.
The mayor and council have been in discussion with TransLink about extending SkyTrain hours, and seem hopeful that it could happen in the future.