No later liquor service, or dancing, for Tofino’s Wolf in the Fog

There will be no dancing allowed in Tofino’s Wolf in the Fog restaurant and liquor service will not be able to run past midnight.

The restaurant opened on June 23, 2014, at 150 Fourth Street and its current licence allows for liquor service to run until midnight with no patron participation—meaning no dancing or karaoke.

A public hearing was held during June 23’s regular council meeting, exactly one year after the restaurant opened, to discuss two applications put forward by the Wolf in the Fog that would have allowed the restaurant to serve liquor until 1:30 a.m. and offer patron participation until midnight.

The two applications were separate and council had the option of approving one and not the other but ultimately decided against both.

The Wolf in the Fog’s business manager Andre McGillivray spoke at the hearing and said the restaurant hoped to provide a post-midnight option for Tofino’s locals and visitors.

“We are looking foremost to provide a restaurant option, not a bar, not a pub. We’re not looking to focus on liquor sales as a sole means of its existence,” he said.

“This new amendment would allow us to terminate at midnight for any live music and patron participation and move on to closing doing regular service.”

He said he has been in the food and beverage business for about 28 years and has seen “wind-down time” prove to be effective as patrons disperse gradually over a staggered period, “as opposed to one big crowd leaving at the very end of service.”

The district had asked nearby residents and businesses for feedback on the restaurant’s applications and, of the 14 responses they received, all were opposed to the later liquor service and only two supported patron participation being allowed.

McGillivray acknowledged the feedback was not favourable to his restaurant’s requests. 

“The comments are stacked against us…Public opinion is not on our side,” he said.

 â€œThe residents’ and businesses’ opinions should be respected of course and we’ll do anything that we possibly need to, to have an exchange of ideas and options to rectify any concerns that are currently being brought forward.”

He noted Wolf in the Fog had been operating for a year and police had only been called to one noise complaint.

District staff reports suggest Tofino’s bylaw enforcement department received two noise complaints regarding the restaurant on June 30, 2014, and none since then.

When it came time for council to deliberate, Coun. Duncan McMaster made a motion that council not support either of the restaurant’s applications.

Coun. Ray Thorogood agreed with keeping the liquor service capped at midnight but was hesitant about preventing patron participation.

McMaster noted nearby residents had clearly expressed concern over the noise coming from the restaurant and said adding patron participation would add to these concerns.

“As soon as you have entertainment where you have audience participation, whether it’s dancing or karaoke, the music level has to go up just to compete with the noise of the people,” he said.

Coun. Dorothy Baert said the neighborhood’s opinion was clear.

 â€œWe have to be really mindful of our impact on people for a sense of their well-being in the tourism economy,” she said. “These things, I think, stress residents and diminish the quality of life because their right to rest, and that kind of thing, is impeded.”

Coun. Cathy Thicke suggested Tofino is not a community that promotes late night living.

“This is no disrespect to the Wolf in the Fog at all, but I think what’s really emerging is people in this town are standing up and saying, ‘We want to have the kind of people who are coming here because they want to be up at 7 a.m. going hiking and kayaking and surfing,’” she said.

“This is the kind of people we want to encourage to come here and that’s the kind of people I think we are.”

Coun. Greg Blanchette argued not everyone fits this mold and suggested there is a contingent of locals who get off work late and look for places to eat and socialize.

“It’s not a huge segment perhaps, but it seems to be a definite market segment. They’re worth catering to and those are the ones who, in the absence of other alternatives, may wind up on the beach at midnight with a bonfire and stack of Lucky (Lager) or whatever,” he said.

“I wish we had some kind of entertainment district where noise wasn’t a problem, where we could send those people, but we don’t. Our businesses and our residences seem to be pretty strongly intermingled in Tofino so, as much as I would like to support this application, given the views of the nearby residents I’m afraid I can’t.”

 

andrew.bailey@westerlynews.ca