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Beach Triangle Residents Association

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The Beach Triangle Residents Association, Toronto, Ontario

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Teletheatre Liquor License Meeting Held

By John Ellis

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On September 29th the Woodbine Entertainment Group (WEG), operators of the Greenwood Teletheatre, invited the Beach Triangle and the Woodbine Park Residents Associations, Deputy Mayor/Councillor Sandra Bussin, and Richard Kulis, legal counsel representing the Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario (AGCO), to a meeting to discuss ongoing plans. The results of the two-hour meeting were largely unsatisfying.

Peter Vassos, WEG legal counsel, reviewed the results of the hearing concluded in December 2005. The Commission had ruled that the limitations on the liquor license regarding controlled access and use of the premises didnít prevent WEG from making changes they requested regarding redesign of the entrance area and enhanced dining. However, approval wasnít forthcoming on later closing for liquor service unless WEG obtained community and city support.

WEG takes the position that they accepted the liquor license conditions eight years ago because they were new in the neighbourhood. Now, conditions have changed Ė they have been a good corporate citizen, controlling drinking in the community, employing many people, and paying significant taxes.

However, they now they offer races from all around the world, extending wagering past midnight, and want to extend drinking privileges to late-night clientele to help with declining profit margins. Roger Watkiss, acting as counsel for the residentsí associations, pointed out that the absence of a drinking problem in the community proves that the license limitations are working! He continued that this is a large operation in the heart of a large, developing, residential community. Where does this proposed change take us?

The residentsí associations were reassured that a change in the liquor license conditions wouldnít open the door to a casino. WEG is on written record with the provincial government that there will be no expansion of gambling Ė no slots and no casino.

The residentsí associations have a history with this issue. Concern began with the negative effects of the Greenwood Racetrack on the community Ė the major reason the BTRA was formed, and continued with the possible negative effects of the Teletheatre. WEG was advised that this meeting couldnít resolve all differences because it is necessary to have community meetings to test residentsí views.

WEG expressed concern that large public meetings arenít always useful and what if they made public commitments they couldnít keep? They agreed that a more detailed proposal was required and volunteered to work through Deputy Mayor/Councillor Bussinís office, adding that they donít have the plan or the funds to move quickly.