As a former downtown hotel owner, Coun. Tina Lange opposed the Cactus Jacks Saloon request to boost its capacity from 495 to 625 patrons and staff.
But she was alone in opposing the application, which means once the night club has been one year without liquor violations, it can add more clients.
Lange said the bar customers make noise when they leave the establishments, yelling and revving motors and doing other things.
“It is very noisy for hotels downtown and we're trying to attract more tourists downtown. They've invested a tremendous amount of money in the last few years. We need to have some balance to support their need for peace and quiet on the street,” she said.
Cactus Jacks plans to buy the liquor 250-person licence for the defunct Rivers night club that closed up on Lansdowne Street. It would add 130 of those seats and cancel the rest.
Last April, Cactus Jacks was cited with a violation for being at 611 customers instead of its limit of 495.
The RCMP recommended to council that the night club be clear of infractions for one year before expansion is allowed to prove good operations.
Lawyer Dennis Coates, speaking on behalf of the bar’s owner, said the overcapacity issue is being challenged, The building could have up to 700 people based on washrooms and 1,100 based on fire exits, he said.
Lange pointed out that Hotel 540 is directly across the street from Cactus Jack’s, while Rivers wasn’t close to any hotels at its Lansdowne location.
"It's important to us to have people living in the downtown core,” she said.
“We're better to spread the bars out. And I don't want to be seen as encouraging one bar to have a monopoly.”
One neighbour, Sanbiki Restaurant owners Masato Kotani and Heather McDonald, wrote saying they had concerns about past problems with noise, bottles, breakage, and cigarette butts.
Coun. Nelly Dever asked about a chart showing Cactus Jacks — the biggest bar downtown — had 90 calls to police in the past 11 months compared with far fewer at the other clubs.
However, RCMP Sgt. Darren Michaels said that’s the number of complaints, not violations. They involved everything from violence to property and drug offences and other issues.
He said the calls indicate the bar is being proactive in dealing with problems, as most of them came from staff. It’s natural the largest bar would have the most calls, he added.
Dever and the rest of council — Lange excepted — felt Cactus Jacks will be a good neighbour and they supported the request with the proviso the expansion not take effect until one year from the violation date.
Mayor Peter Milobar stepped out of the discussion because he has a liquor primary license that’s the same as the applicant’s.