Written by By Antwon Jackson, CNN Senior Staff Writer
Three Ontario music venues — The Phoenix, WinSport, and the Annex Theatre — are now eligible to offer standing shows and operate at capacity, according to Ontario’s Liquor Licensing Authority.
The OLC approved Friday a motion by local community associations and advocacy groups to amend the Alberta Hotel, Lodging and Restaurants Act to extend the regulations of the clubs. Following the change, The Phoenix will now be able to operate at “full capacity with no limits of occupancy,” according to a statement from the OLC.
“We’ve lived in Cambridge for a long time and it’s always been an arts-friendly city,” said Stephanie Jones, vice president of policy and communications for Cambridge Community Association. “We are in the village or high-density urban area — why not tap into that culture with standing shows?”
The Beaver Cafe and Lounge, pictured here, was shot during a late-night show in July 2018. A month later, the venue reopened for a standing show. Credit: Courtesy The Paradise
The OLC also approved a motion filed by the Cambridge Chamber of Commerce and seven other community organizations and advocacy groups to permit the operations of The Phoenix and WinSport without limitations, including without the attendance regulations.
“We were shocked and disappointed at how (the OLC) had responded to that,” said Kate Brewington, director of trade and financial relations at Cambridge Chamber of Commerce. “The decision makes it nearly impossible for venues like the Phoenix and WinSport to have live shows without reservations for prior, and often standing, booking for ‘normal’ rooms.”
It will now be possible for venues to hire more musicians, she added.
WinSport, a ski and snowboard resort and three-venue complex, announced in February that it will allow standing shows in order to hire more staff and musicians, according to a statement from the Village of Lake Louise and nearby Firenze Lake. At the time, it said it “would be happy to have a greater percentage of hotel patrons patronizing the venues to help with that,” the statement said.
Along with bands, stand-up comedians and comedy-folk artists will now be able to perform free of strict crowd restrictions, and tickets will be good for up to three hours, rather than for just one hour, according to Brewington.
“As long as the bands are not advertising to bring minors and alcohol for at least an hour, it will be fine,” she said.
Once the standing shows commence, the OLC will be responsible for enforcing crowd limits and the police will be called in to help, the statement said.