Victoria residents will get a chance to have their say on the Roxy Classic Theatre's bid to serve liquor at its Quadra Street location.
Vogue Amusements Ltd., operating as the Roxy, has applied for a liquor primary licence. Victoria councillors voted last week to hold a public hearing on the issue. Until last April, B.C. movie theatres were not allowed to apply for a licence to serve alcohol - a rule that Roxy owner Michael Sharpe called "archaic."
Allowing liquor to be served would help independently owned, single-screen theatres continue in a sector where there is much competition and the need for expensive technological upgrading, Sharpe said earlier. The Roxy is the first theatre in the city to seek a liquor licence.
Under the Roxy's application, the maximum hours of liquor service would be from 5 p.m. to midnight Sunday through Thursday, and 5 p.m. to 1 a.m. Friday and Saturday.
Actual hours would vary because liquor service would be permitted between one hour before and one hour after a movie or event under this application, a city staff report said.
However, council is also looking into whether those suggested hours can be tightened up. "We're prepared to move forward with the application to a public hearing based on liquor service seven days a week, no later than 11 p.m.," Rob Woodland, the city's director of legislative and regulatory services, said Tuesday. "Mr. Sharpe has advised he is amenable to that change in his licence application. He had requested hours that were a bit later."
Sharpe has said independent theatres rely on such initiatives to be able to compete with chains such as Cineplex Entertainment.
If the licence is granted, only adults would be allowed in the theatre when liquor is available. Anyone served alcohol would need a ticket to that event.
Victoria's governance and priorities committee voted to recommend the public hearing, but a hearing date has yet to be set.
A public hearing accepts written and oral submissions from citizens and property owners. Based on the results of that hearing, council then chooses whether to support the liquor application. B.C.'s Liquor Control and Licensing Branch issues licences. It solicits comment from local governments on issues such as noise and community impact.
Councillors want to know if it is possible to stipulate liquor service wrap up one hour before the end of a movie or event, Coun. Pamela Madoff said. "The concern being, the movie's finished, [theatregoers] are sitting around in their theatre seat drinking for an hour and spilling out onto the street."
The Roxy's capacity is 447 people.
Liquor service in movie theatres is "something that has gone on in other countries for a long time," Mad-off said. "I can see the reason it is happening here - neighbourhood theatres are just struggling to survive."
© Copyright 2013