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Curling club clears hurdle to becoming a music venue

Council votes to endorse application to change liquor licence that will allow it to serve the broader community.

Victoria Curling Club is not about to trade throwing rocks for rock ‘n’ roll, but it may be sliding into the music groove after the City of Victoria approved giving the club’s lounge a liquor primary licence.

Noting that no neighbourhood concerns had been raised, the hours and capacity remain the same and providing a venue for local music suits the city’s goals, council on Thursday voted unanimously to endorse the club’s application to swap its liquor primary club licence for a liquor primary licence that will allow it to serve the broader community.

The application now goes to the Liquor and Cannabis Regulation Branch for approval.

“This means a couple of things for us — it allows us to keep open if we wish during the summertime, when we’re not actively curling here, and it lets us expand a bit,” said general manger Paul Dixon.

Under its existing licence, the club, at 1952 Quadra St., must have members present to serve liquor in the lounge.

Dixon said with the new licence, the lounge, which can accommodate 180 people, could offer a pre- or post-game hangout venue for Victoria Royals fans in the winter and Victoria Harbourcats fans in the summer, and perhaps hook into the city’s Cultural Spaces Initiative, which aims to establish more music venues.

“That sort of size of music venue, there just isn’t very many of them and we’d love to try and help fill that void.”

A liquor primary licence would allow the club to market itself as an alternative evening venue for the city, especially in the summer, when the club is largely inactive. “With Logan’s closing down over on Cook Street, I think that there’s a void that can be filled in this area for sure,” said Dixon.

The North Park Community Association is on side, noting the club has been an excellent neighbour.

“With the recent transition of Logan’s Pub to a liquor store and limited options for food-service venues open after 6 p.m., we feel that the curling club lounge presents an important venue for socializing and community development,” the association said in a letter of support.

Dixon said he’s not sure how long a decision from the Liquor and Cannabis Regulation Branch will take, but he hopes to have some news within the next few months.

The club has already been approached by the Victoria Ska and Reggae Society as a potential small venue, he said, adding the new licence would also provide an impetus to improve staging in the venue and purchase a PA system for the lounge.

Coun. Chris Coleman said it was an easy application to say “yes” to.

“It, I think, fits everything that we want to see in it and allows greater latitude for the curling club itself to carry on with a broader range of activities,” he said.

Coun. Matt Dell said the city has lost a lot of arts and cultural venues, and the club has potential to be a cultural facility.

“They used to do big concerts at the curling club when I first moved to Victoria, and [it’s] something I’ve always wanted to see come back,” he said. “I think changing this liquor licence will allow that to happen.”

aduffy@timescolonist.com

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