Don't let eateries turn into pubs, Coquitlam council says

Coquitlam city council voted 5-4 to oppose a liquor-primary licence for the Cactus Club in Coquitlam. - tri-CITY NEWS FILE PHOTO
Coquitlam city council voted 5-4 to oppose a liquor-primary licence for the Cactus Club in Coquitlam.
— image credit: tri-CITY NEWS FILE PHOTO

A popular Coquitlam restaurant was denied a bid to add to its liquor licence this week.

On Monday, city council voted 5-4 against the bid by the Cactus Club on Lougheed Highway and Schoolhouse Street to have a liquor-primary licence, saying it didn't want to further blur the lines between restaurants and pubs or bars.

Councillors Brent Asmundson, Terry O'Neill, Neal Nicholson and Bonita Zarrillo were in favour of the application, which was forwarded for comment by the provincial Liquor Control and Licensing Branch.

A liquor-primary licence for Cactus Club would have no impact on the surrounding community, Asmundson said while Zarrillo argued it would offer stricter standards for serving alcohol than a food-primary licence.

O'Neill said business owners should have the freedom to do what they want with their operations while Nicholson said, in this case, the Cactus Club had done its due diligence and surveyed the area; its consultation resulted in three responses — two of which approved the proposed licence, he said.

Still, other members of council, including Mayor Richard Stewart, said they didn't want to set a precedent by "opening the floodgates" and allowing Coquitlam restaurants to morph into pubs or bars.

A liquor-primary licence allows for live music and dancing, and neighbourhoods that have a restaurant need to be safeguarded, they argued. "If we approve this, then we are going to have another 75 restaurants wanting the same thing," rookie Coun. Chris Wilson said, adding pubs are now struggling financially and don't need the competition.

Council's decision comes less than a month after it revised its cut-off times for new bars, pubs and restaurants serving booze.

Also on Monday, council deferred a bid by Douglas College for a liquor-primary licence to host special events for invited guests. Council said it wants to ensure the David Lam campus has no future plans for a pub.

A liquor-primary licence request for Townhall Public House to extend its hours from 9 a.m. to 2 a.m. on Fridays and Saturdays — and 9 a.m. to 1 a.m. on Sundays to Thursdays — was approved by council. A similar bid by Woody's Pub was put on hold by the applicant this week, city staff said.


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