By Jordie Yow

City staff are putting forward a report that is likely to be the basis for major change on how venues are run in Vancouver.

In mid-January, two open house events were held at the Mount Pleasant Community Centre in which city staff put forward the information gathered from over a year’s research based on meetings with local venue operators and stakeholders.

“This is a big step because this will save live music in Vancouver,” said Dave Duprey, owner of the Rickshaw and the Narrow. “It’s gotta happen.”

He said this while looking at a poster declaring that city hall would be focusing their efforts on what is perhaps the biggest change to current bylaws: a switch from a safety enforcement system that seems most comparable to how an overprotective parent might treat an only child to a system that is more like that of a laid-back parent who has already raised a large brood. The system will focus on enforcing the minimum levels of safety needed to operate a temporary performance space, allowing venue operators to experiment a bit more with unorthodox spaces like warehouses and art galleries.

Duprey is hoping that once the changes take effect for temporary spaces the city will allow the changes to apply to permanent venues as well.

“Once this gets done and they figure out that nobody dies, then they can start talking about doing it with [permanent] liquor license [establishments],” he said.

The two events were surprisingly crowded with concerned members of Vancouver’s music community interested in seeing what city staff had proposed in order to improve our music scene.

“I have played countless illegal shows in the past ten years when there’s really no reasons for them to be outlawed—there’s no safety issues, no real noise complaints—but still we don’t have the laws in place to make things like that legit,” said Hermetic singer Eric Axen, who was in attendance to see what had been put forward.

In addition to the changes to how safety should be looked at by the city, the report also recommended a number of other changes with the goal of creating a sustainable cultural environment in Vancouver unhindered by bothersome bylaws, from encouraging different regulative bodies to work together to establishing a process for people to mention problems in the current system.

The report is going to city council on February 3. If you’re interested in voicing your opinion on its contents, get in touch with your favourite city councillor on the Vancouver city website. (