British Columbia

Plan to close Granville Street bars early put on hold

Vancouver is pushing pause on a plan to close the doors of Granville Street bars one hour earlier.

Clubs in the entertainment district were set to restrict entry to 2 a.m. beginning July 1

Police investigate a stabbing on Granville Street in January. The city has hit pause on a plan to close bars an hour early as part of a pilot project to address violence on the strip. (Gian-Paolo Mendoza/CBC)

Vancouver is pushing pause on a plan to close Granville Street bars one hour earlier — starting next month.

The city's proposed late entry pilot project was set to begin July 1, stopping entry to clubs and pubs in the entertainment district at 2 a.m., but allowing those already inside to stay until 3 a.m.

But Kaye Krishna, Vancouver's general manager of development, buildings and licensing, said the pilot has been pushed back indefinitely after city staff heard concerns from bar owners and council.

"We're not backtracking on the pilot, we're still moving forward with it. It's just a matter of timing," Krishna told The Early Edition Friday morning.

"The success of the program is really contingent on the people participating in it, so we want to make sure they're ready, they feel comfortable, we have guidelines around what the program is and we establish a baseline of data so we can measure the impacts over time."

A VPD officer talks with a witness after a man was taken to hospital with stab wounds following a fight on Granville Street last July. (Gian-Paulo Mendoza/CBC)

Bar owners had been involved in consultations over the last year about ideas for addressing violence and crime along the Granville strip, but Krishna acknowledged they may have been caught by surprise by the early closure plan.

"We talked about a lot of things but we didn't land on one thing. I think that's probably where they're coming from," she said.

No silver bullet for late-night violence

According to the city, weekend policing in the entertainment district costs an extra $1.1 million every year. The idea for early closures comes from a pilot project in Sydney, Australia, but Krishna said she hasn't seen a silver bullet anywhere for dealing with late-night violence on streets like Granville.

"Entertainment districts in cities around the world have these very same issues," Krishna said. "I don't think anybody has figured this out yet."

The city has now formed a working group of bar owners and other stakeholders along Granville Street to look at options for addressing the the drunken brawls that have become a feature of the strip.