Yukon News

Local business shuts down off-sales amid public concern

Sharon Nadeem Friday June 16, 2017

Joel Krahn/Yukon News

heavenlydrinks.jpg

Heavenly Bite Liquor Depot has closed after the owner received complaints of public drinking in the area.

Heavenly Bite Liquor Depot, a Whitehorse cafe and liquor store, made its last alcohol sale June 15, less than two months after it starting selling off-sales.

The restaurant shut its doors after receiving complaints from neighbouring business owners concerned with increased public drinking and intoxication near 3rd Avenue and Wood Street.

“When we started our off-sales, we had people calling us angry.… We’re not here to make enemies,” said owner Kim Giam.

Giam received an off-premises liquor licence April 1. He’d hoped to to boost revenue at his cafe, which he said wasn’t receiving “enough traffic.” But being able to sell at retail prices made the cafe more of a wholesale liquor depot than a restaurant selling accompanying beverages and off-sales, said local business owners.

Cindy Beasley, owner of the Java Connection coffee shop across the street, said she noticed more public drinking and drunkenness in the area, particularly in LePage Park, since the off-sales began.

“My customers have been accosted and asked for money. It wasn’t a problem for us before the off-sales,” she said. Beasley said she sometimes felt unsafe and had to call the RCMP a few times.

“They [RCMP] have come right over to the situation and usually it clears the crowd out for a little while and as soon as the RCMP are gone, then they’re back again,” she said.

Beasley said there are enough liquor stores in town and losing this one won’t matter.

“A liquor depot shouldn’t be there right next to a park where kids go and it shouldn’t be near a movie theatre that kids go to all the time,” she said.

LePage Park is owned by the City of Whitehorse but is currently leased to the non-profit Yukon Historical and Museums Association, under a 99-year lease. The association is responsible for maintaining the park but the last month has been tough, said association staff.

“Over the past month it [maintenance] has taken significantly more of our time and resources due to public drinking and intoxication, and we’ve been constantly cleaning up broken glass and other garbage,” wrote Liane Maitland, executive director of Yukon Historical and Museums Association, in an email.

Maitland has been working with the RCMP and Blood Ties Four Directions to help “deal with this behaviour and dispose potentially dangerous waste.” She added the situation has been a challenge for the association to handle and it is examining different options and funding to make the park easier to manage.

The organization works with Music Yukon which manages Arts in the Park, the popular summer concert series. Kim Winnicky, executive director of Music Yukon, said Arts in the Park has not been affected and is proceeding as usual.

“Our concerns are only with the health and well-being of the people who use the park regularly,” she said.

These “consequences and what we’re dealing with every day” led Giam and his partner, Elaine Giam-Ong, to ultimately decide to shut down Heavenly Bite. He said that the reopening of the restaurant is doubtful. “It’s just not worth it,” he said.

“We’re not sure at this time if we want to go back and give it another go to sell only sandwiches and (baked goods). We’re definitely not interested in selling liquor anymore.”

Maitland commended Giam’s decision to shut down. She said it shows his “commitment to community safety.”

She stressed the need to address the larger issue.

“It’s important for everyone to help address these social issues, which run more deeply than any one business, organization, or government can address alone,” she said.

Contact Sharon Nadeem at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)

12 Comments

Groucho d'South wrote:
3:37pm Friday June 23, 2017

Lots of comments before the fact, but how many made a difference since the Liquor Corp always issues a license after an application is made. Read the classifieds people. That is where you will see the license approved. Better before than afterwards.

Andy wrote:
2:24pm Thursday June 22, 2017

I work in the area and LePage is a notorious place for daytime drinking, drug use and fights all in broad daylight.  Not once have I seen the police actively patrol that place.

150 wrote:
12:39am Wednesday June 21, 2017

Been by the Mountain Ridge Motel and RV park recently ? It used to be a beautiful attraction for tourists and drive through one nighters .... now it’s a salvage yard , towing company , taxi parking lot , U Haul rental , mobile home sales yard , can’t believe that government allows that kind of down grade to a once estically beautiful property to transform to a junk yard !

Groucho d'North wrote:
4:01pm Monday June 19, 2017

Lots of comments here after the fact, but how many voice their opinion when the Liquor Corp calls for public comments when a license application is made. Read the classifieds that’s where you’ll be informed about new applications and asked your views. Better before than afterwards.

Steve O wrote:
7:10pm Sunday June 18, 2017

Now please explain why we have the new multimillion Salvation Army hostel for the disadvantaged situated directly across from a liquor off sales outlet on Alexander St. and a pawn shop on Fourth Ave. all within a half a block walking distance. Many people in charge of planning should be ashamed of themselves imo.

Blameitothers wrote:
5:20pm Saturday June 17, 2017

Of course, we have to blame the owner and his staffs, who are just making a living. Maybe we should start calling big bear donaire to close down too, since it’s close to a school and the salvation army building. We’ve seen that park full of drunkards even before this off-sale establishment came out.

Jonathan Colby wrote:
3:43pm Saturday June 17, 2017

No loss whatsoever.

Craig wrote:
3:03pm Saturday June 17, 2017

They should shut down the government liquor store for public drinking??? See it everyday. Get real people. Or should I say special snowflakes

ProScience Greenie wrote:
2:22pm Saturday June 17, 2017

Err, lots of places to get booze in that section of town. Hard to believe that this particular off-sale joint would make any difference at all. You also can’t go too far in that area without having someone come up to you asking if you want some crack, prescription pills or stolen goods. Unlike the old days it’s easier to get that bad stuff than a bag of weed or cord of firewood.

Ian wrote:
2:12pm Saturday June 17, 2017

Give them a delivery licence in exchange for their off-sales paper. Support local business.

drum wrote:
8:08pm Friday June 16, 2017

The owner was running his taxi company out of the cafe as well - not a good combination!!!!!!!!!!!!
with off sales.
Before the taxi and liquor sales were run in the building it was a really nice place to have a good lunch!!!  It should have stayed with that.

Local business owner wrote:
4:54pm Friday June 16, 2017

As a local business owner myself, I do not believe it is the right thing to do to force a local entrepreneur out of business due to others actions. The man did nothing wrong, he abided by the law yet public opinion drove him out of the business.. how unfair. What about the Big Bear Donair off sales? Where the amount of public drinking and intoxication has increased dramatically since it’s opening. Do people not care about this area? Or is it because the owner happens to be the son of a very successful local business owner?

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