Costly last call

Penticton reviews 400 per cent increase for fees to extend bar closure times

  • Mar. 8, 2012 6:00 p.m.
General manager Steven Parker behind the bar at The Mule night club this week. The downtown business could be facing huge increases in costs related to policing for its proposed late-night openings this year.

General manager Steven Parker behind the bar at The Mule night club this week. The downtown business could be facing huge increases in costs related to policing for its proposed late-night openings this year.

How much does hosting a late night on the town cost?

For The Mule’s general manager Steven Parker, he hopes the answer won’t be 400 per cent more than what they paid in 2011.

Parker made a presentation to council Monday inviting the City of Penticton, RCMP and liquor licensing officials who are reviewing costs associated with policing late-night closures to consider the ramifications of boosting application fees to $24,000 a year from $4,500.

“It’s a 400 per cent increase in what we’ve been used to paying for,” he said, adding The Mule would simply have to abandon the application with such a fee. “We’ve never had any communication that it’s an issue. So it’s a surprise to us.”

For 2012, The Mule requested 16 dates for extended hours from 7 p.m. to 4 a.m., primarily on holiday weekends or those with special events in town: April 7, 13 and 14; May 19; June 29 and 30; Aug. 3, 4, 10, 11 and 31; Sept. 1; Oct. 27; Dec. 22 and 26.

According to building and permitting manager Ken Kunka’s report to council, the Penticton RCMP detachment uses a formula of $100 per hour to calculate the costs associated with late-night openings. Those are billed back to licensed establishments that apply, and work out to $300 per late-night evening.

But the RCMP contend there is an uptick in caseloads during those “special event” weekends, and the later hours conflict with predetermined weekend shifts from 7 p.m. to 7 a.m. In a Penticton RCMP report tracking 2010 data, weekends with 2 a.m. bar closure times result in an average of 25 files throughout the city, but those with 4 a.m. closures have seen a 44 per cent increase to 36 files. The report also found that files increase in the downtown core and north beach areas on Fridays with 167 per cent increases (the average of six files going up to 16 files).

Providing additional officers to handle the additional caseloads was projected to be in the range of $1,600 an evening — which would cost an establishment like The Mule $24,000 per year.

But Barb Haynes, Downtown Penticton Association executive director, told council Monday that they have been closely tracking police incidents in the area to gauge the problem. When they looked at calls in the downtown area between 2 and 4 a.m. — the hours in question allegedly posing a problem — they found only seven could be directly attributed to The Mule for the entire year.

“Not all the calls can be attributed to a late-night opening,” she said, adding the 4 a.m. closures are also offered on long weekends, which generate more parties and liquor consumption by tourists and residents alike.

The city’s review was triggered earlier this year by a letter from Lakeside Resort and Casino management, which called on Penticton to abandon the 4 a.m. openings because the hotel found its patrons were damaging suites and creating too much noise during those late nights.

Haynes said the association also polled the Ramada and Coast Penticton Hotel for their sentiments. Both preferred 4 a.m. closures, she said, because their patrons were more likely to go directly to sleep, rather than return to their rooms at 2 a.m. and continue to party as they disturb neighbouring guests.

Parker said The Mule outlined for council the numerous measures they’ve taken over the years to boost security. He said bar and security staff co-operate with the police, offering up indoor or outdoor video surveillance footage from the eight cameras on site, and learning how to identify patrons who have had enough is a key part of training.

“In these trying times, or any time for that matter, it never makes sense for The Mule to over-serve our customers,” he said, noting the Liquor Licensing Board’s fines and penalties are stiffer than any profit to be derived from another round of drinks.

The later openings, he added, help The Mule expand to not only 40 seasonal staff in the summer, but maintain the 25 staff members throughout the slow winter months.

Haynes said boosting fees is a “double-edged sword,” adding that council needs to recognize The Mule is the last business of its kind in Penticton. “Part of this discussion needs to include the business. At the very least, it needs to be a two-way discussion.”

Saying the presentation “is quite at odds with the information we’ve been given,” Coun. Garry Litke suggested council permit the first April opening to 3 a.m. for $300, with a review to come on the fees after a consultation meeting is held with RCMP. The move to 3 a.m. closures was defeated.

Coun. Helena Konanz threw her support behind The Mule also, suggesting that as the last dance club in town, council should listen to its needs. “He feels that’s how he can make a living.”

Mayor Dan Ashton said the system is set up to protect taxpayers from policing costs. “I concur that your establishment is doing a good job, but the costs have to be borne by that business,” he said to Parker.

Coun. Andrew Jakubeit said it was a “philosophical discussion” between the need for safety, the costs associated with policing and developing an environment in which business can flourish. “To me, it’s a cost of doing business in a tourist town,” he said, “of course, $1,600 is also unrealistic.”

Coun. John Vassilaki defended the 4 a.m. closures, noting how critical that industry is to Penticton. “Tourists, they come to Penticton to enjoy their stay while on holidays,” he said, noting the fees were too high. “Sixteen hundred dollars for two hours? It’s unethical.”

Vassilaki moved they allow a 4 a.m. opening for the initial weekend at the $300 fee level, to be adjusted after a consultation meeting and set at “a reasonable price.” Council approved that motion, with only Litke opposed.


Just Posted

The weekly COVID-19 map for June 6 to 12. (BC CDC)
South Okanagan sees only 5 new cases in last week

The Similkameen Valley went a second week without any new cases

Sandra Krauer, Penticton Mayor John Vassilaki and Barb Hoolaeff were in Skaha Park to announce the return of Ribfest for September, 2021. (Brennan Phillips - Western News)
Ribfest returns to Penticton

Festival runs from Sept. 17 - 19 at Skaha Lake Park with proceeds going to new splash park

Fiery crash on the Okanagan Connector between two semis. (Facebook)
One dead after fiery Okanagan Connector crash between two semis

DriveBC estimates road won’t be open until 5 p.m.

A tent housing a mobile vaccination clinic. (Interior Health/Contributed)
Second dose vaccinations accelerating throughout region: Interior Health

To date, more than 675,000 doses have been administered throughout the region

Turn out is high in advance voting for the Penticton by election taking place Saturday, June 19, 2021. (Screen shot)
Over 2,500 already voted in Penticton by-election

General voting day is Saturday, June 19

Bear wanders Kelowna on June 15. (Michelle Wallace/Facebook)
Bear climbs fence, uses crosswalk in Kelowna

The bear was spotted on Baron Road Wednesday evening

The Calgary skyline is seen on Friday, Sept. 15, 2017. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh
2 deaths from COVID-19 Delta variant in Alberta, 1 patient was fully immunized

Kerry Williamson with Alberta Health Services says the two patients, a man and a woman likely acquired the virus in the hospital

B.C. Public Safety Minister Mike Farnworth and Attorney General David Eby attend opening of the first government-run B.C. Cannabis Store, Kamloops, Oct. 19, 2018. (B.C. government)
B.C. government to allow home cannabis delivery starting July 15

Added convenience expected to persuade buyers to ‘go legal’

Festivals Kelowna president Richard Groves and executive director Renata Mills wrap themselves in the flag during the announcement of preparations for the 2018 Canada Day festival. (Alistair Waters/Capital News)
Festivals Kelowna cancels Canada Day celebrations for second year in a row

The group cited logistic issues in their announcement

The first suspension bridge is the tallest in Canada, with a second suspension bridge just below it. The two are connected by a trail that’s just over 1 km. (Claire Palmer photo)
PHOTOS: The highest suspension bridges in Canada just opened in B.C.

The Skybridge in Golden allows visitors to take in views standing at 130 and 80 metres

Central Okanagan Public Schools is assisting with the distribution of a donation of $500 to every Grade 12 graduating student in the school district. (File photo)
Central Okanagan Grade 12 grads get $500 surprise

Anonymous donor gifts $500 to every Grade 12 student

BC Green Party leader and Cowichan Valley MLA Sonia Furstenau introduced a petition to the provincial legislature on Thursday calling for the end of old-growth logging in the province. (File photo)
BC Green leader Furstenau introduces old-growth logging petition

Party calls for the end of old-growth logging as protests in Fairy Creek continue

B.C. Premier John Horgan leaves his office for a news conference in the legislature rose garden, June 3, 2020. (B.C. government photo)
B.C. premier roasted for office budget, taxing COVID-19 benefits

Youth addiction law that triggered election hasn’t appeared

A vial containing the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine is shown at a vaccination site in Marcq en Baroeul, outside Lille, northern France, Saturday, March 20, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP/Michel Spingler
mRNA vaccines ‘preferred’ for all Canadians, including as 2nd dose after AstraZeneca: NACI

New recommendations prioritizes Pfizer, Moderna in almost all cases

Most Read