City Council last week was a long and brutal battle that included yelling, name calling, and tears. Little of the business had to do directly with Weston, but Frances Nunziata did have a few asks on the table.
Nunziata, true to form, was again after illegal after-hours bars. She asked the City Solicitor to consult with the AGCO and municipal licensing to see what can be done to deter the “violent crime, robberies, drugs, and prostitution [that[ are serious concerns associated with establishments with repeated liquor licence infractions.”
Nunziata also asked to prioritize a public meeting about sewage back ups and flooding. The next meeting was to be held in the fall of 2013. She asked for it to be done sooner.
Councillor Frances Nunziata is seeking to protect us from another licensed restaurant, this time at 1784 Jane Street. According to our councillor, complaints were received regarding ‘drug activity, late night noise, and late-night construction’ at this address.
It seems that the previous tenant is in rent arrears and so is probably not behind the application to open a licensed restaurant.
With the public not having access to the complaints in question, the councillor may be treading on shaky ground. Are the complaints legitimate? If so, why visit upon the new tenants the sins of the old ones? Is this unnecessarily impeding the birth of fledgling businesses? Certainly, our police are capable of enforcing laws and responding to noise complaints, yet this is the second straight month that the councillor has opposed a licence application in York South Weston. If a licensed restaurant is not in compliance with the law, the Alcohol and Gaming Commission (AGCO) can fine them up to $5000, suspend or revoke their license. A restaurant could continue to operate but would not be allowed to serve alcohol.
There are some important issues here that need to be addressed:
- When politicians oppose liquor licence applications, the process should be transparent so that business owners (and the public) know that allegations are genuine (and not someone else’s fault) while protecting the identity of the complainants.
- A few vocal residents should not be allowed to impede the improvement of our community.
- Jane Street and Weston Road are commercially zoned and desperately in need of vibrant thriving businesses. Perhaps councillor Nunziata could share her vision for these streets and what she is doing to attract businesses that meet her approval.
As WestonWeb has mentioned in previous articles, Frances Nunziata is our vocal and dynamic councillor. She has been involved politically for decades and overall her contribution has been outstanding. Years of opposition made her an outspoken maverick ready to fight for her constituents.
One of the problems apparent in the Weston community is the illegal use of premises to hold large parties to which admission is charged. Parties go long into the night and attract some dangerous individuals. These unlicensed premises are a threat to safety and because their whereabouts are unknown, often in basements and side-alleys, they are hard to detect and shut down. When establishments are licensed, police officers and inspectors can enforce operating hours, room capacities and reasonable levels of noise.
Femi’s Place, an existing restaurant at 1812 Weston Road has applied for a licence to serve alcohol. For some reason, Ms. Nunziata recently steered through this emergency council decision to block the application. In her motion, Ms Nunziata claims that ‘Residents of Weston Village, within which this establishment is located, are already troubled by the number of licenced establishments in the area which frequently violate the conditions of their liquor licences but still remain in operation.’
As a result of complaints she sent inspectors to visit the restaurant, but they found that the restaurant was serving alcohol legally and without problems (the restaurant had applied for and obtained special permits). There was no evidence of wrongdoing other than hearsay.
There are few licensed establishments in the immediate area south of Lawrence. There is one nearby at 1828 Weston, Michelle’s Place, whose owner claims that they have never had problems.
In Ms. Nunziata’s zeal to clean up Weston, she may have forgotten that a nuanced approach is best rather than ‘Kitty bar the door’. Successful businesses and neighbourhoods have to start somewhere. Legal businesses pay taxes, enrich the local community and are subject to inspection and control.
The statement by Ms Nunziata that there are Weston establishments frequently in violation of their licenses implies that we are being failed by the inspection and enforcement process. Perhaps this is where she should focus rather than victimizing fledgling businesses.