Victoria's Bengal Lounge to close, petition aims to stop renovations
The iconic lounge is set to close on April 30 because of renovations at the Fairmont Empress Hotel
Fans of Victoria's Bengal Lounge in the Fairmont Empress Hotel are petitioning to save a favourite hang out and tourist attraction from closure.
The colonial-style lounge, inspired by Queen Victoria's role as Empress of India, will close its doors for good at the end of April. It caught many by surprise in Victoria, a city that local journalist Tom Hawthorn says "move[s] at a pretty slow pace."
"Victoria is a city of government ... So when an announcement like that is made, that the Bengal Lounge is going to close, people are shocked and of course, petitions have started," he said.
More than 2,500 people have signed the petition to save the Bengal Lounge as of Friday morning.
Renovations and change
The Vancouver-based Bosa family took over the 108-year old hotel in the summer of 2014 and started changing the hotel bit by bit — gone are the ivy vines and sequoia trees. The hotel says the Bengal Lounge itself will not survive the next round of renovations.
But some Victoria residents consider the lounge an important part of the city's history.
The move means "destroying its history and everything that this heritage landmark stands for," says the petition.
The lounge was also a meeting place for politicians, lobbyists and journalists.
"It's within staggering distance of the legislature and so they would all come over here," said Hawthorn.
"I will miss it. It was a place that was fun to show off."
With files from The Early Edition