Community backs booze at the Roxy

But city council stalls on granting theatre necessary approval

The first local test of a new provincial law to allow drinking in movie theatres shows the community is generally in support of the idea.

Quadra Village’s Roxy Theatre is the first in Greater Victoria to apply for the new licence, and the public got to air their feelings about the application at a public hearing last Thursday.

There is a real desire to see the Roxy survive, said Coun. Ben Isitt, speaking to the sentiments expressed by a majority of presenters to council.

Some people also expressed concerns about opening another drinking establishment in the neighbourhood.

“On balance it makes sense for the community to support this mom-and-pop theatre,” said Isitt, who is the liaison for the Hillside Quadra neighbourhood. He is also a parent who lives nearby.

More than a dozen letters to council solidified support for the liquor application.

“I have been a patron since my high school days in the early and mid-90s, and like many Victorians have a bond with the business,” Ryan Wood wrote.

“Through the acquisition of a liquor licence the theatre can make up for some financial pitfalls and continue to be a viable form of entertainment.”

Others spoke to their desire for more options for patrons and the need to keep Victoria vibrant for young people.

“Any step towards less arcane and unnecessarily restrictive laws surrounding liquor in the province is a step in the right direction!” wrote Kim Persley, who owns a home in the area.

“We lose our local young adults (my 24-year-old daughter being an example …) to Vancouver and anywhere else because Victoria is boring,” wrote Karen Kennedy.

Only Philip and Judy Bogod wrote a letter urging council to reject the application.

A movie house usually has no intermission to serve drinks, and the lobby area at the Roxy is too cramped, they wrote.

“It would be unpleasant to have the smell of alcohol in the theatre itself while a movie was playing; even worse if somebody carrying alcohol were to spill it on another patron in the dark.”

After listening to input from the public, council postponed making a decision, but directed staff to prepare a recommendation in support of the application.

Did you know?

• In April, the provincial government made a change to its liquor regulations allowing movie theatres to apply for a licence to serve alcohol during adult-only films.

• Michael Sharpe, who owns the Roxy Independent Arts House Theatre in Quadra Village, is seeking a licence to be able to serve liquor seven days a week between 5 p.m. and 11 p.m.

rholmen@vicnews.com