Praise from Edmonton's downtown community as 'mega-bar' proposals rejected

Urban Sparq, owner of Knoxville’s Tavern and the Pint pubs, wanted to build a 400-seat bar on the ground level of the Fox 2 condo tower and a 1,400-seat nightclub in the former location of Mother’s Music on 109th Street and 103rd Avenue.

'A victory for common sense,' says Ward 6 city councillor

The Fox 2 condominium will no longer house a proposed 'mega-bar.' (CBC )

The head of a community league and a city councillor who represents downtown Edmonton are both praising a decision by the city's planning department to reject proposals for a 400-seat bar and a 1,400-seat nightclub.

"That's the decision that the community was looking for," Chris Buyze, president of the Downtown Edmonton Community League, said Thursday. "There was an unprecedented amount of negative reaction to those applications, and for a lot of planning reasons we didn't think that they were appropriate for the areas."

Ward 6 Coun. Scott McKeen said: "I'm tempted to call it a victory for common sense."

Urban Sparq, owner of Knoxville's Tavern and the Pint pubs, had wanted to build a 400-seat bar on the ground level of the Fox 2 condo tower, on 104th Street and 102nd Avenue. The company also had plans for a 1,400-seat nightclub in the former location of Mother's Music, on 109th Street  and 103rd Avenue.

The city issued a statement Thursday that said both proposals have been rejected because they would "materially interfere with or affect the use, enjoyment or value of neighbouring properties."

The Fox 2 application was also deemed to be out of step with the Downtown Special Zoning Regulation, which prohibits projects with windowless walls wider than six metres.

Urban Sparq issued a short statement Thursday saying it had just been informed of the city's decisions to reject the proposals.

"We're disappointed in the decisions but we respect them," the statement said. "We need to evaluate these decisions and determine our next steps."

The proponent has 14 days to appeal the decision to the city's Subdivision and Development Appeal Board.

Buyze said the city appeared to have considered the opposition to the proposals "but they also looked at good planning arguments.

"There's a lot in our current downtown plan and in the zoning that would not permit these applications to go forward. But certainly the opposition from surrounding residents and businesses, there was just a huge groundswell of concern for these applications moving forward."

Coun. Scott McKeen said he's happy the megabar applications were denied. (CBC )

McKeen, who had previously called both applications "ridiculous," said the planning department "would have had some explaining to do to council" had it approved the proposals.

Neither plan fit with the urban character of 104th Street or 109th Street and would "almost equate to industrial uses," he said, adding that a 1,400-seat nightclub would be better suited to a farm field 20 or 30 kilometres outside the city.

"I don't get that scale of operation," McKeen said. "I really don't understand it. It doesn't sound like something we would want to have in downtown Edmonton. The symptoms and side-effects of an operation that big are significant, and those costs would be borne by the taxpayer."

He said the planning department seemed to have listened to opposition from residents and other businesses.

"It was clear from what I was hearing that people had moved into those areas for a certain experience, and megabars were not the experience they were expecting."