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Vancouver seeks to regulate underground parties 0

By Michael Mui, 24 Hours Vancouver

A DJ performs at an underground warehouse venue in Vancouver. City officials are proposing changes to regulate and inspect the popular events. (OPENSTUDIOS.CA)

A DJ performs at an underground warehouse venue in Vancouver. City officials are proposing changes to regulate and inspect the popular events. (OPENSTUDIOS.CA)

Evening parties inside shopping malls could become reality under new proposed rules to govern Vancouver’s “underground” social scene, currently an unregulated market, according to city hall.

“Why not? We do have two or three malls in Vancouver, but warehouses are certainly the classic one people think of,” Coun. Heather Deal said of the proposal, which would allow an expanded list of private properties — art galleries, retail stores, warehouses and more — to host shindigs twice monthly with the city’s permission.

According to a city report, officials estimate there is up to 500 largely unregulated events annually in Vancouver, some raising “potential life safety” concerns due to untrained staff and other safety hazards. Yet, only 30 actually applied for permits.

Deal said such events risk being closed if the city receives a complaint. The new rules would establish a city department to approve venues and help organizers get compliance.

The city would provide an inspector to check properties for safety.

Open Studios, which hosts private, unadvertised “underground” warehouse parties at an East First Avenue property, has been working with Vancouver officials for a decade to sanction its venue.

“It’s a matter of not fighting with the city,” general manager Ben Reeder said.

Open Studios was previously closed following a complaint a few years ago. Eight weeks later, however, inspections and renovations were done to meet safety codes and Reeder was back in business.

“Now they love us.”

Event consultant Marc Smith said “onerous” regulations have plagued the underground party scene.

Under the proposal, he said, the only other step would be registering with the B.C. Liquor Board to serve alcohol, a process involving an online test and a trip to a government liquor store.

 

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