Force rowdy Exchange District bar to shut down at midnight, neighbours demand

People living on the west side of the Exchange District want Manitoba's liquor regulator to cut back the hours of a 500-seat nightclub authorities call a source of 'tension' in the downtown neighbourhood.

500-seat nightclub targeted by residents of nearby apartments in complaint to liquor authority

Exchange District residents want the Manitoba Liquor, Gaming and Cannabis Authority to requite Citizen nightclub to close at midnight. (Jaison Empson/CBC)

People living on the west side of the Exchange District want Manitoba's liquor regulator to cut back the hours of a 500-seat nightclub authorities call a source of tension in the downtown neighbourhood.

In a letter dated Nov. 6, a trio of Exchange residents called on the Manitoba Liquor, Gaming and Cannabis Authority to scale back the hours of Citizen, a nightclub at the corner of Princess Street and Bannatyne Avenue, due to complaints about public urination, violence and noise emanating from the sidewalks and streets outside the venue after it closes at 2 a.m.

"Nearly every night that the establishment is operating we experience a significant disturbance that goes far beyond that of any of the other restaurants and lounges in the area or the various outdoor events that take place close by," reads the letter, co-authored by the president of the Residents of the Exchange District and two other residents, claiming to represent a total of 64 people.

The three authors of the letter declined CBC News requests for comment. Their letter calls on the LGCA to require Citizen to close at midnight to keep noise outside the venue consistent with the effects of large festivals that take place in nearby Old Market Square, such as the Winnipeg Fringe Theatre Festival and the Winnipeg International Jazz Festival.

"The present owner of the club has been unresponsive to concerns brought forward to residents and rejects the suggestion that they are responsible for the behaviour and management of their patrons in the immediate vicinity of the business," state the residents.

Citizen's most recent owner and manager did not respond to requests for comment. The residents nonetheless state their primary complaint is not with the club's licence-holder, but the size of the venue itself, which previously operated as Maw's Garage and Republic.

The residents have been working with the LGCA, the Winnipeg Police Service, the Exchange District Business Improvement Zone and City of Winnipeg officials to attempt to resolve the issue since July, when a Citizen bouncer was charged with stabbing club patrons outside the venue. 

The Liquor, Gaming and Cannabis Authority told CBC News it's working to resolve the conflict between the club and area residents.

"The LGCA acknowledges that there is tension in the Exchange neighbourhood between residents and the Citizen," communications manager Kristianne Dechant said in a statement, adding her agency has the power to restrict the hours of licence-holders.

Police outside of Citizen early in the morning in August, attending the second of two reported disturbances. (Austin Grabish/CBC)

The Winnipeg Police Service says it has apprehended drunks outside the club and has ticketed the club for noise violations.

"We've been dealing with it from a regulatory perspective, but there's only so much we can do in getting them to be good neighbours," Insp. Dave Dalal said in an interview. 

The challenge is the size of the venue, given its location in a residential neighbourhood, Dalal said.

"Most other entertainment buildings of this size are out in the suburbs, with huge parking lots, so that when people start filing out after they've been drinking it generally doesn't cause the level of noise and disturbance that this place does," he said.

Point Douglas Coun. Vivian Santos says she'd like to see a different business occupy the location. (Jaison Empson/CBC)

"It's surrounded by a number of buildings that have residents now, which never used to take place."

Since 2006, the residential population of the entire Exchange District has increased from 420 people to 2,167 and 554 residential units are under construction in the neighbourhood, the residents state.

They state that while they "love the vibrancy and rich activity of the Exchange District," the disturbances emanating from this venue after 2 a.m. "have reached an unreasonable level."

Point Douglas Coun. Vivian Santos, who started representing the neighbourhood this week, said she would like to see the LGCA either reduce the club's hours or revoke its licence altogether.

She said she'd like to see a different business occupy the space and said a change may be in the works for the venue.

"At 2 a.m., you don't want to be waking up to sirens or fighting or belligerent people out on the street," Santos said. "Something needs to change in that specific location."

500-seat nightclub targeted by residents of nearby apartments in complaint to Manitoba Liquor, Gaming and Cannabis Authority. 2:09

About the Author

Bartley Kives

Reporter, CBC Manitoba

Reporter Bartley Kives joined CBC Manitoba in 2016. Prior to that, he spent three years at the Winnipeg Sun and 18 at the Winnipeg Free Press, writing about politics, music, food and outdoor recreation. He's the author of the Canadian bestseller A Daytripper's Guide to Manitoba: Exploring Canada's Undiscovered Province and co-author of both Stuck in the Middle: Dissenting Views of Winnipeg and Stuck In The Middle 2: Defining Views of Manitoba. His work has also appeared in publications such as the Guardian and Explore magazine.