By Ryan McGreal
Published October 22, 2009
Tonight, as I attended the Strathcona Community Council's Annual General Meeting, I witnessed something wonderful: local residents rising up in what I'm going to term PIMBYism: Please, In My Back Yard.
A young family has purchased the dodgy building at the northeast corner of King and Locke, which used to house the grim tavern GP Grumpy's. They plan to renovate the upstairs into four two-bedroom apartments and open a restaurant/bar on the main floor called Rolly Rockets BBQ.
At issue was the liquor licence: when Councillor Brian McHattie (Ward 1) announced the couple's licence request, he expressed open-mindedness about the matter but speculated that some residents might prefer to see the licence cut off liquor sales at 11:00 PM rather than the provincial closing time of 2:00 AM.
At that point, several people at the well-attended meeting stood up and stated flatly that they considered the restaurant to be a wonderful inclusion to the neighbourhood and that there should be no restrictions on the liquor licence.
A couple of long-standing residents pointed out that there has been a bar at that location for decades and it was never a problem, at least not until the last few years when it was a really seedy bar.
One resident contrasted the likely clientele - people like himself, who might like to pop out for a relaxing beer after the kids go to bed (don't worry - they won't be left unattended!) - with the loud, rowdy crowds at Hess Village.
Another resident pointed out that more 'eyes on the street' would be a good thing, especially for the safety of people walking through the park at night.
My favourite comment was from the woman who articulated her support for the plan and concluded, "Our neighbourhood can handle this."
Unlike Kirkendall or Westdale, Strathcona doesn't really have a neighbourhood centre. The closest thing is Victoria Park, but the commercial facilities in the vicinity are severely limited. It was clear tonight that the residents at the AGM recognize the value of new commercial investment in their neighbourhood - not only for local places to frequent, but also for the power to agglomerate people and amenities to their mutual benefit.
That process, of course, is urbanization itself in microcosm.
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