Residents in the ByWard Market say they are fed up with the proliferation of bars in the neighbourhood, saying licensed establishments have crowded out shops and made the once-vibrant community a dead zone during the day and a nightmare at night.
Members of the Lowertown Community Association and residents were among those who spoke at a hearing Tuesday and Wednesday over a hair salon/café at 113-115 Clarence St. that has applied for a liquor licence.
Headquarters hair salon, at the former location of Canadian Rug Traders, is applying for a liquor licence for an establishment that would seat more than 200 people and be open until 2 a.m.
Sarah Jennings, a retail property owner and resident in the neighbourhood, spoke at the Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario License Appeal Tribunal hearing and says the last thing the ByWard Market needs is more bars.
‘We can’t walk out of our houses at night’
“More and more there’s been a movement to a monoculture in the market,” Jennings told CBC Radio’s All in a Day. Too many bars and restaurants coming into the neighbourhood “to the exclusion of the other diverse activities” has led to a pronounced deterioration in the market, Jennings said.
“People like myself, residents in the area, we can’t walk out of our houses at night,” Jennings said.
Lowertown Community Association president Liz Bernstein wrote to the commission about its opposition to the licence proposal, saying it would increase problems such as “nighttime crowds, crime and related disturbances.”
In 2008, there were 17,000 licensed seats among the bars and restaurants in the market, but now there are over 21,000 , Bernstein wrote. Crimes against persons and assaults in the neighbourhood rose at a similar rate, she noted in her letter to the commission.
“Residents feel unsafe because of the high level of intoxication,” she wrote.
Aydin Kharaghani, one of the owners of Headquarters, said the move to apply for the licence came because of interest from corporate and artistic groups wanting to use the space, and said applying for a liquor licence was a way to operate those kinds of events without limitations.
Though the coffee shop and salon has fewer than 80 seats right now, the application calls for 210 because that is what the city’s occupancy rules permit, he said. The actual number of seats will be about 133, he said.
Kharaghani, who also owns Atari in the Market and is one of the co-founders of the Escapade Music Festival,…