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We’ll make Vancouver a fun city if it kills us

Trying to make Vancouver more fun can be no fun at all. That became all too clear at this week’s marathon five-hour meeting during which city council heard staff recommendations to extend hours until 1am citywide for both liquor establishments and restaurants.

Councillors got snappy near the end of the 17-speaker list. Especially when speaker Mike Mitton posed the scenario of Councillor Heather Deal “going out to Bar None with her girls” where “someone would yell “COUGAR!” At that point, the entire standing-room only chamber erupted into howls, including Heather Deal.

Councillor Andrea Reimer tried to keep everyone in check with well-placed reminders to “steer away from ageist and potentially sexist comments.” A fair target for that warning might have been Counc. Kerry Jang, who declared he doesn’t eat much in restaurants “because my wife’s cooking isn’t bad.”

As the tortuous evening wore on, younger speakers and restaurant owners said they want extended hours so that Vancouverites could stay in their neighborhoods for a nightcap instead of having to travel all the way to Granville Street to wait in line at a “thumpa thumpa” club. (Council finally agreed on this term for Granville clubs after much debate, with “thump thump” being the close second choice).

The thumpa thumpa clubs of the Granville “entertainment district” now offer later hours, but also the increased risk for drunk driving and general mayhem. Or so went the argument.

Which was countered by other speakers including those working in addictions, and generally those working early in the morning. They raised the issues of noise, health effects of increased access to alcohol, and the question of who will pay for increased policing at 1am, when all of Vancouver’s partiers, no longer confined to Granville’s thumpa thumpa zone, spill into the streets of various neighbourhoods and attempt to fight each other.

Ironically, the first half-hour of the conversation was derailed by an irritating high-pitched feedback whine coming from the digital recorder of the Evolution 107.9 News reporter. The discussion of potential noise complaints had to be paused while all councillors darted their heads around in frustration, turned off their microphones one by one, and then got the attention of the offending reporter, who was busy typing on his laptop.

Groups speaking included Bar Watch, Restaurant Watch, Centre for Addictions Research BC, Pro-Fun Vancouver, Hospitality Vancouver, and David Duprey, a restaurant owner who spoke passionately about the hordes of creative types in their twenties who have fled Vancouver for other, more “fun” cities, and how “no one over 25 wants to go to Granville St. for a drink.” Apparently he hasn’t seen Councillor Deal out on the town with her “girls.”

Council has not yet voted on the issue. More fun to come.

Sarah Buchanan is Vancouver writer and regular contributor to The Tyee.

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