Agenda Index City of Vancouver



Standing Committee on Planning and Environment


The Chief License Inspector, the Director of Current Planning and the Director of Social Planning


West End Liquor License Policy





There is no comprehensive Council liquor license policy for the West End neighbourhood. To date, applications in these areas have been assessed on a case-by-case basis using established Council policy and practices which are described as follows:

Council may, with any of the above liquor license applications, require the successful completion of a neighbourhood referendum in accordance with City guidelines if significant neighbourhood issues are identified.


This report recommends a liquor license policy for the West End neighbourhood, which was prepared in consultation with West End residents, community organizations and other affected parties.

In response to suggestions from residents in the West End for the City to consider endorsing proposals for an increase in the number of neighbourhood establishments with liquor licenses (primarily neighbourhood pubs), Council directed staff to review this issuewith the community and draft a liquor license policy. Council advised staff to focus on the area bounded by Davie, Denman, Robson and Burrard Streets. (See Map One)

After consulting with residents, the business community and a wide array of community organizations including the West End Seniors Network, Gordon House, the West End Community Association and the two neighbourhood Community Policing Offices, staff with representatives from Permits and Licenses, the Police, Social Planning and Planning, prepared a proposal with the following themes:

- providing for a phased increase in neighbourhood pubs, primarily serving a local clientele;
- encouraging smaller pubs to minimize neighbourhood impacts;
- encouraging the pubs to be distributed over a number of blocks, but at the same time allowing for the Davie Village to emerge as a neighbourhood centre for socializing and shopping;
- considering the extension of hours and capacities for cabarets on an event-specific basis; and
- encouraging on-going liaison between the operators of the establishments and the neighbourhood to minimize and manage impacts.

Once Council have considered this report and its recommendations, staff will begin the preparation of a liquor license policy for the central business district as directed by Council last December.


There has never been a specific liquor license policy for the West End and to date, existing City-wide policy has been used to evaluate liquor license applications on a case-by-case basis. It has become apparent that the City-wide policy is generally more suited to suburban areas, such as Kerrisdale or Marpole, and does not reflect the attitudes and needs of the West End community. After resolving to approve an application for a new 65-seat pub in the 1000 block of Davie Street (the Fountainhead), Council decided that it would defer the consideration of more liquor licenses in the West End and, on October 5, 1999, resolved:

On December 14, 1999, Council approved funding for a consultant to assist in the study and for meeting expenses and public communications.

At this time, the City has received applications for two 65-seat (plus 20 patio seats) neighbourhood pubs - the Oasis in the 1000 block of Davie Street at Thurlow Street and from the operators Doll and Penny's in the 1100 block of Davie Street.

The study began in January 2000 with a stakeholders meeting, followed by the preparation of an initial proposal for liquor licensing, meetings with the West End community and other stakeholders and adjustments of the policy proposal based on the feedback received.

In the West End, there are currently the following number of licensed pubs, hotel lounges, class two restaurants and cabarets, as illustrated on Map Two:


The following issues were considered when preparing the policy proposal:

- having licensed establishments which provide a variety of experiences and serve a variety of patrons;
- minimizing noise and other impacts on the residential neighbourhood, noting that the level of noise is influenced by:

- maintaining the viability of the West End's shopping districts by ensuring that the number and concentration of licensed establishments do not result in a reduction in the variety of stores and services available to West End residents;
- ensuring the availability of police resources in this part of the city to deal with problems associated with licensed establishments.

It also became apparent that the policy should distinguish between the three West End commercial districts because each has its own unique character, serving different clienteles and is distinguishable by permitted uses (e.g., hotels are only permitted on Robson Street, north of Cardero and on Burrard Street), intervening residential blocks (e.g., Davie Street), and topography. (See Map One).

Map 1

Map 2Map 3

The Policy Proposal

At the outset, considerable interest was expressed, particularly from the gay and lesbian community for an increase in the number of licensed pubs and other businesses with Liquor Licenses. In general, West End residents have also chosen to live there because they like living in an urban setting which offers a variety of establishments for dining and socializing.

This proposal is detailed below:

Staff received the following key message from the public on the policy proposal:

- more licensed outlets should be considered, particularly in the Davie Village not only because this is a neighbourhood commercial area serving the growing community on the south side of the downtown peninsula but also because this is recognized by many West End residents as the "downtown" of the gay and lesbian community;
- many residents in the West End would like a variety of places for socializing with their friends, including seniors who would like to have a quiet place for a drink;
- there should be an opportunity for considering an additional pub in the 1000 block to accommodate the proposed Oasis Pub; and
- additional cabarets should be permitted in the West End.

In response to the public feedback, staff increased the number of pubs by one in the Davie Village, from the original proposal to that noted above, to allow for the consideration of the Oasis in the 1000 block. Initially, staff were concerned that there was a concentration of licensed outlets on this block (currently two cabarets and one pub). However, staff concluded that an additional pub could be considered on this block and proposes that this be balanced by the reduction in the number of new Class Two Restaurants from two to one to be considered for the Davie Village. Providing for the opportunity to have an additional pub in 1000 block of Davie Street received wide community support including representatives from resident associations and neighbouring seniors. Staff note that this area is at the eastern edge of the West End and therefore impacts are reduced. In addition, staff and residents supported the increase in establishments because they will close earlier than the cabarets. Therefore, noise impacts are minimized in the early hours of the morning. Further, as currently practised, the City can require that patios which have close proximity to housing be closed at an earlier hour such as 10 p.m. or 11 p.m.

Recently, the Fountainhead Pub has opened in the 1000 block of Davie Street between Burrard Street and Thurlow Street. Initial feedback from the community on this establishment has been very positive.

Staff do not support increasing the number of cabarets in the West End, except for the possibility of a cabaret in conjunction with a hotel in the Robson Village or on Burrard Street. Due to the late closing time of cabarets (2:00 to 3:00 a.m.) they have a higher impact. Generally, Council policy is encouraging cabarets to locate on Granville Street and other downtown locations. However, staff have provided for an opportunity for onecabaret due to the community interest in such a facility. Staff suggest that it be located in conjunction with a hotel as we believe that this will assist in reducing noise impacts because the hotel's management will want to minimize impacts on their guests as well as the neighbourhood.

The Size of Establishments

There was general support for the emphasis on smaller establishments because this will minimize neighbourhood impacts such as noise and provide an opportunity for catering to a variety of local patrons. Staff met with several operators of establishments holding liquor licenses to discuss the viability of 40 seat (plus 10 patio seat) pubs. The majority endorsed the proposal noting that the smaller size of the premises, reduced staffing and less choice in the variety of beverages will make them profitable. Other operators questioned the economic viability of smaller premises, but some were willing to endorse the proposal due to the opportunities existing in the West End to serve smaller niche markets such as those interested in the arts, wine bars or establishments serving smaller communities such as the Eastern Europeans living in West End. A streamlined approval process currently being considered by Council will reduce the cost for making pub applications. The proposed smaller pubs do not require any change to provincial liquor licensing legislation.

It should be noted that staff have proposed that the endorsements for the smaller neighbour pubs be subject to the condition that the pubs are not operated in conjunction with any other type of liquor license. For example, it would not be possible to open an operation similar to the Yaletown Brewpub or Steamworks which by combining different licenses increase the capacity of the facility. This condition could also be imposed on any development permit approvals to ensure the West End pubs remain small and therefore impacts are minimized.

There was also support from residents and others, including seniors for allowing for event-specific increases in the capacity of cabarets up to 12 times per year to be approved by the Police and the Chief License Inspector. Staff will be discussing this issue in other areas of the downtown such as the Central Business District and Granville Street. Approvals can be granted on a case-by-case basis and staff will monitor the resulting impacts.

The Hours of Establishments

There was general support for focussing new licensing opportunities on neighbourhood pubs because they close earlier than cabarets (midnight on weekdays and Sundays and 1:00 a.m., on Fridays and Saturdays) and neighbourhood impacts will be reduced. The public also support a proposal for allowing the pubs to open earlier to serve breakfast but with alcohol service typically not beginning until 11:00 a.m.

There was also support for extending the hours of the three West End cabarets for Sundays on long weekends on the understanding that this would only be introduced if a similar opportunity was offered to cabarets in other areas of the downtown.

Public support was also forthcoming for extending the hours of cabarets on an event-specific basis up to 12 times per year, noting that alcohol would not be served after 2:00 a.m. The implementation of event-specific hours extensions and the 2 a.m. closing on Sundays on long weekends will be implemented on a case-by-case basis as noted in the section above on the size of establishments.

The Approval of Applications and Associated Requirements

The approval of licenses will follow the neighbourhood notification procedures currently being considered by Council if they are approved. License approvals will also be subject to a good neighbour agreement and, for specific situations, a time-limited development permit.

Public Involvement

The initial policy proposal was prepared by staff after a stakeholders meeting with representatives from the West End residential and business community, the community policing offices in the West End and the operators of cabarets and pubs. This policy proposal was presented at two Open Houses and further discussed at a meeting of the Davie Street Business Improvement Association, with the applicants for the two proposed pubs in the Davie Village (pending applications) and the operators of pubs and cabarets on Granville Street and at a meeting of West End residents, including the West End Seniors Network, the West End Residents Association, volunteers from the community policing offices, the Mole Hill Association, Gordon House, and the West End Community Association. Discussions were also undertaken with representatives of St.Paul's Hospital, the Robson Street Business Association and the Pub Owners Association of BC.

The proposal before Council reflects the feedback received and support was forthcoming from all groups that were consulted.

At these discussions, there was a proposal for on-going liaison between the operators of businesses holding liquor licenses and the community. The proposed organization which would also include other businesses in the West End and West End community organizations, including the Community Policing Offices, resident associations, the Davie Street Business Improvement Association, the West End Community Association, Gordon House and the West End Seniors Network will foster communication and address issues of mutual concern, such as event planning and minimizing impacts such as noise.


Staff recommend the adoption of a liquor license policy tailored to respond to the West End as outlined in this report. There is broad community support for the proposal to have a variety of pubs and other licensed outlets which are oriented to the neighbourhood and operated so that impacts on the livability of the neighbourhood are minimized.

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845 Burrard St

Sutton Place Hotel




11:30 am to 1:30 am

1088 Burrard St

Wall Centre Garden Hotel




11:00 am to 1:00 am

1100 Burrard St

Burrard Motor Inn




11:00 am to 12:00 am

1015 Burrard St

Century Plaza Hotel




12:00 n to 2:00 am

1022 Davie St

Celebrities (Vancouver)




7:00 pm to 2:00 am

1042 Davie St





7:00 pm to 2:00 am

1160 Davie St

Parkhill Hotel




11:00 am to 1:00 am

1025 Davie St

Fountainhead Pub

Neighbourhood Pub



11:00 am to 12:00 am

1755 Davie St

Sands Motor Hotel




12:00 n to 2:00 am

1733 Comox St

Coast Plaza at Stanley Park




12:00 n to 2:00 am

860 Denman St

Denman Station




7:00 pm to 2:00 am

961 Denman St

Dover Arms

Neighbourhood Pub



10:00 am to 12:00 am

1225 Robson St

Blue Horizon Hotel




11:00 am to 1:00 am

1277 Robson St

Pacific Palisades Hotel




11:30 am to 1:30 am

1300 Robson St

O'Doul's Hotel




11:00 am to 1:00 am

1348 Robson St

Barclay Hotel




11:30 am to 1:30 am

1400 Robson St

Empire Landmark Hotel




11:30 am to 1:30 am





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