VANCOUVER (NEWS 1130) — One city councillor hopes the legacy of a decades-old live music venue can be preserved on the site of a development that will bring much-needed hotel rooms to Vancouver.
Vancouver city council unanimously voted Thursday to approve a project that will bring hundreds more hotel rooms to a site blocks away from Vancouver General Hospital on West Broadway.
“We have an incredible shortage of hotel rooms in the city that is affecting the economic viability of our tourism industry,” says Coun. Sarah Kirby-Yung, adding the city has lost over a thousand hotel rooms in the last decade.
The ground floor of the Park Hotel is occupied by a pub which has hosted live music for decades and council is directing city staff to find ways for the redeveloped hotel to serve up something similar.
“The amendment really recognizes that one of the legacies that’s on the site is the Fairview Pub which is a really popular venue for live music. It’s well-utilized by the community, a lot of regulars go there, and we do have a shortage of live music performance space in the city,” she says. “Council sent a strong signal tonight that they really want to keep live music space in the city.”
Voted for new hotel proposal on site of current Park Inn & Fairview Pub. Will deliver badly needed #hotel rooms in City going from 117 to 437 units. A huge positive for our #tourism sector & #economy. Also added amendment to look at potential to continue #livemusic on site. pic.twitter.com/k8i4FAMLyo
— Sarah Kirby-Yung 楊瑞蘭 (@sarahkirby_yung) January 31, 2020
Kirby-Yung says the city needs a hotel that is moderately priced and offers longer-term accommodations.
“The only new hotels that we’ve had built have been higher end, and more expensive. It’s important that we have a variety of accommodation choices for visitors when they come to Vancouver,” she explains. “[The longer-term units] are really intended for families and people that have friends and family and loved ones at VGH so that they can stay close to them.”
She says people who work at the nearby hospital are in favour of a development that will bring more retail and restaurant options and will “add some life to the area.”
Eleven people wrote to council in support of the rezoning, three wrote in opposition.
As Kirby-Yung says, the main concern voiced was the loss of the pub.
“Please reconsider the closing of the Fairview. It is the only place where seniors can go dancing and socialize. I and many others would be completely lost if the Fairview should close. It is hard enough losing friends and many other things and capabilities as we age. Please don;t take this away from us,” wrote one man.
A woman who works part-time booking and producing events says she is worried about losing her income and that a new pub or music venue may not be affordable or accessible to the pub’s long-term regulars.
Two musicians playing Thursday were sad to hear the venue’s days are numbered.
“It’s a shame, we hate to see it go,” says jazz musician Doc Fingers. “It’s a shame for us because we lose work.”
Guitarist Paul Pigat says the loss of live music spaces is a problem in a lot of cities, and the Fairview is one of the few places in town that offers regular, live performances in genres ranging from rock and roll, to jazz, to country.
He thinks it fills an important role.
“The clientele are mostly working class people. A lot of people stay upstairs that have family in the hospital and they need a little bit of time to blow off steam so this was a really special place for them I think. There’s really nothing else in the neighbourhood.”