Koncept Nightclub has submitted an application to the provincial Liquor Control and Licensing Branch requesting a change to their liquor licence in order to allow increased capacity from 200 to 220 people. NEWS BULLETIN file

Councillors disagree on whether to support increased capacity at Nanaimo nightclub

RCMP opposes Koncept’s request, concerned about more patrons downtown at closing time

A downtown nightclub’s application for an amendment to their liquor licence was neither supported nor denied by city councillors.

Koncept Nightclub has submitted an application to the provincial Liquor Control and Licensing Branch requesting a change to their liquor licence in order to allow increased capacity from 200 to 220 people and was seeking city council’s support.

Instead, city councillors voted 4-2 to take no position on Koncept’s application to the Liquor Control and Licensing Branch, during a council meeting on Monday. Councillors reached their decision after motions to deny and support Koncept’s application failed on tie votes.

A staff report called on councillors to deny Koncept’s request and noted the club is under new management, part of the Nanaimo Bar Watch Program, has worked “co-operatively” with the police and signed a good neighbour agreement. The report was accompanied by a letter from the Nanaimo RCMP calling on councillors to deny the application because “very challenging noise and public safety issues manifest when nightclubs close at 2 a.m.”

During Monday’s meeting, Bill Corsan, deputy director of community development, told councillors that Koncept’s request was referred to the Nanaimo RCMP, who had issues with the request.

“There are five nightclubs in the area and they [the RCMP] are concerned,” Corsan said, adding that the concerns are around the additional amount of people downtown at 2 a.m.

Sebastian Barkovic, a co-owner of Koncept, said there are already people downtown anyway and that the increase would allow them to remain inside, instead of outside.

“These 20 people that we are asking for are already downtown. They’re waiting in lines, they are waiting outside,” he said. “At least if they are … inside they will be under supervision.”

Barkovic told councillors the request is not about bringing more clubbers into Koncept, but to allow the nightclub to add more staff.

“It’s not that we are asking for 20 more patrons, it’s that we’ve actually had to double, even triple, our staff,” he said. “So, all we are really asking for is to be able to employ more people.”

Koncept has six security six staff, five front-door staff, nine bar staff and two to three DJs on any given night according to Barkovic.

Coun. Ian Thorpe, who voted in favour of taking no position, said while he appreciated the comments from the club owner, he couldn’t overlook the recommendations made by the RCMP and would not support Koncept’s request.

“To me, that weighs very heavily,” he said.

Coun. Gord Fuller, who voted against the motion calling for no position, said he was originally going to support staff’s recommendation, but instead opted to support Koncept. He said the city is trying to increase the downtown core’s population and that young people want a vibrant downtown.

“One of the things we are trying to do in the downtown core is increase the residents that live here,” he said. “So, currently we have five nightclubs in the downtown core that are servicing people from out of the downtown core as well as in the downtown core. As the population grows, do we want people standing on the street waiting?”

Coun. Jerry Hong did not take part in the debate, citing conflict of interest as a downtown liquor licence holder himself.

The Liquor Control and Licensing Branch has yet to rule on Koncept’s application.

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