The world's largest nightclub — with a capacity to hold more than 15,000 people — could soon be coming to this city's waterfront, despite objections from neighbours and local politicians, CBC Toronto has learned.
The company that owns Rebel and an adjacent bar, Cabana, in the Portlands, has applied for a new liquor licence for the same site, but with a much larger scope.
The application from Powerhouse Corp. calls for an indoor capacity of 7,584 people, and with another 7,971 patrons allowed on patios.
It's slated to be heard by the province's Licensing Appeals Tribunal on Feb. 9.
The company also wants to shed the strict conditions that were put on its existing liquor licence after residents on the Toronto Islands, and around the harbour, complained about excessive noise coming from the venue a decade ago.
Ulla Colgrass, a member of the York Quay Neighbourhood Association and Waterfront for All, said she worries this could signal a return to those days of excessive noise and disruptions.
"The Air Canada Centre can hold 19,000 people and this [application] is for 15,000. Can you think of a crowd that big coming out in the middle of the night?" she asked.
'This is like putting a megaphone at the end of the bay.' - Ulla Colgrass, York Quay Neighbourhood Association member
A capacity of roughly 2,000 patrons with strict noise restrictions would be a compromise residents could support, Colgrass said
But 15,000 is too many.
"There's no transit, there's no adequate parking," she said. "And it would be very, very noisy. This is like putting a megaphone at the end of the bay."
But a lawyer for Powerhouse told CBC Toronto Tuesday that the company has no plans to actually use that extra capacity, even if were granted.
But could it, in future?
"There's always a chance for everything," Richard Kulis said. "But in my view of it, I think we're looking at numbers reasonably close to, if not exactly, the capacity that exists now.".
Former site of the Docks
Right now, the club's limited to 3,163 patrons indoors and 2,510 outside.
The site was once home to the controversial Docks nightclub, which had its liquor licence revoked in 2006 after a battle with neighbourhood groups over the noise that emanated from both inside and outside the venue.
A new licence was eventually issued for a new club, but it included strict conditions that limited both the noise level and the capacity.
Owner wants 'clean' license
Those are the conditions that Charles Khabouth, a part-owner of Powerhouse, wants dropped.
The company opened Rebel late last year, and it believes the club deserves "a brand new, clean licence considering that we're a brand new operation," he said Tuesday.
But Ken Greenberg, an urban designer who worked to create the municipal plan for this part of the Portlands, is also opposed to the new, bigger club.
He said it's out of step with the city's vision for this area, which includes parks and residential neighbourhoods.
"It sits right in the middle of a planned neighbourhood, right on the edge of a river and parks," Greenberg said. "It's like creating a giant crater in the middle of an area that would otherwise by a vital, successful part of the whole redevelopment of the waterfront."
Coun. Pam McConnell, who represents many of the residents who are objecting to the higher capacity, said she'll fight the proposal once it goes to the tribunal next month.
Currently, a club called Privilege, in Ibiza, Spain, bills itself as the world's largest nightclub, with a capacity of about 10,000 people.