Granville Street clubs will close their doors 1 hour earlier this summer

The City of Vancouver will launch a pilot program in the Granville Entertainment District that will limit entry to bars and clubs past 2:00 a.m. starting July 1.

City council votes to bar entry to patrons at 2:00 AM starting July 1

Witness being questioned by Vancouver Police after a man was taken to hospital with stab wounds following a fight on Granville Street last July. (Gian-Paulo Mendoza/CBC)

The City of Vancouver will launch a Last Entry program in the Granville Entertainment District that will limit entry to bars and clubs past 2 a.m. starting July 1.

"The challenge is there continues to be a lot of problems on weekends," said Kaye Krishna, Vancouver's general manager of development, buildings and licensing.

"The number of police incidents has risen year-over-year and it continues to be a problem."

Bars and nightclubs in the district be still be allowed to stay open till 3 a.m., but bar-goers will be stopped from entering an hour earlier.

"What we're trying to do is thin out the crowds in a more gradual way," said Krishna. "When people are all leaving bars at the same time the streets get very crowded ... and that's when many of the fights occur."

Vancouver Police take man into custody following early morning stabbing on Granville Street, Feb 2016 (Gian-Paolo Mendoza/CBC)

The rising incidents of crime and violence requires extra police presence on weekends — costing the city $1.1 million last year.

But the Downtown Vancouver Business Improvement Association (DVBIA) says the city bulldozed the proposal through without any consultation.

"It came out of left field, and the industry that has to implement it wasn't at the table to have a discussion about how to best do this," said Charles Gauthier, CEO of the DVBIA.

"What's the rush?"

Gauthier is concerned the new rules could cause more harm than good, because frontline staff might not have had time to be properly trained to deal the changes to come.

"How are you going to be able to communicate with individuals that may not be happy with what you are telling them —and also slightly intoxicated — that you're not going to let them in?" he said.

Vancouver looked to a similar 'Last Entry' program in Sydney, Australia when considering the plan

"They tested it and evolved it over a period of time," said Krishna.

"They went from one hour to thirty minutes, maybe we'll do the same."

Gaulthier says the silver lining will come at the end of the pilot, when a working group of stakeholders will be involved in monitoring the effectiveness of it.

"I'm hopeful that if its not working well, the city will pull the plug on it sooner rather than later."

City staff will report back to council in six months.