Nightclub shuts down after council denies seating expansion

Last call is over for a downtown nightclub, putting more than 20 people out of work.

Operators Gordon Van and Angela Jackson confirmed to reporters Monday they will not reopen Rivers Night Club. Rivers shut its doors Nov. 23 - just weeks after Kamloops council refused to allow it to expand its capacity.

The pair, who operated the nightclub on behalf of an owner they declined to name, blamed the City for their demise.

"We just told them (owners) it's not viable," said Jackson, citing financial losses as the reason for the closure.

Van, a veteran restaurant and club operator in Kamloops, said investors "lost of a ton of money," in a bid to keep the doors open.

Investors took over the former Charlie's Tap House in October last year. Van and Jackson said it was profitable for the first six months, until RCMP cracked down on occupancy rules.

He argued the establishment is artificially limited to 210 patrons, rather than the 400 permitted based on square footage, fire exits and washrooms.

With the smaller capacity "kids don't think it's happening here and they don't stay," Van said.

The majority of council voted earlier this month to deny the club's application to expand from 210 seats to 380. That decision was based on the number of RCMP calls to the operation, higher than competing operators in Kamloops.

Coun. Nancy Bepple said Monday she doesn't regret voting to deny the expansion.

"It's always unfortunate when a business shuts down. (But) the business had a certain capacity. One would hope they had a business case to make it work within that."

At the time of the vote, Bepple said she wanted the operators to continue for six months while improving their record of RCMP calls.

"RCMP were committing too many resources dealing with issues in the downtown core, particularly when the bars closed."

Jackson said there is frustration all around by business people due to what she said was council's failure to compromise.

"Whoever is here, it will be the same issue over and over."

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