Pub not welcome, neighbours say

Daniel MacEachern
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Residents near Boncloddy Street bar want NLC to reject liquor licence application

Two doors down from the shuttered Sports Bar, Pamela MacPherson cringes when she thinks about life on Boncloddy Street when the pub was open.

Some people living on Boncloddy Street in the centre of St. John’s are raising concerns about a sports bar in their neighbourhood. — Photo by Rhonda Hayward/The Telegram

The music blared all over the street. People were drunk outside the club, using dirty language, drinking outside, throwing up,” said the retired bank worker who has lived with her daughter on the short — not quite two-dozen homes — downtown street for 10 years.

Weekends were the worst, she added. “Instead of being able to have a nice barbecue and have people in, I was ashamed to have people in. I was ashamed to let people know that I lived on this street at times.”

Beer bottles were broken in the street. Fights would break out. It was impossible for residents to find parking amidst the constant flow of traffic. MacPherson says the vacant area beside her house, connecting Boncloddy with Gear Street, was used for drug transactions.

“I did call the police on a few occasions,” she said. “I didn’t expect the police to do anything, because people are not going to sell drugs on the side of my house with police presence around. So it was either install cameras, for evidence, I suppose, or just let it go on. So it just went on.”

That changed late last year when the Sports Bar — which had been open for decades — abruptly closed its doors. Residents interviewed by The Telegram don’t know why it shut down — and they don’t particularly care why, either.

“It’s just a whole different atmosphere since the club has been closed down,” said MacPherson.

Neighbours are visiting with each other and are able to enjoy the outdoors on evenings and weekends, she said.

“You could see a difference right away. It just all seemed so nice and calm, and people were coming out of their houses and stopping and saying hello to other people and having a chat. I’ve talked to more people on the street this past summer.”

So when a notice appeared in The Telegram last month of an application for a liquor licence for the Sports Bar, Linda Redmond’s heart sank.

“I went out of my mind,” said Redmond, two doors down from the bar on the other side from MacPherson, who has lived with her husband Bill on the street for nearly 25 years. When they first moved there, the bar was quieter, more of a neighbourhood pub to have a beer in after work with your neighbours — think Coronation Street. But an older crowd gave way, with successive owners, to different clientèle, they say, and after 25 years it’s time for the pub to stay closed.

For Bill, the biggest issue is traffic and parking — not the noise or the music — but for Linda, years of noise, fights and the cursing have added up.

“Whenever the club was full, that was an issue,” she said. “We’ve got to get up for work in the morning, and you’re looking out the window, saying, ‘Could you take it inside?’ There’s people coming outside and they’re fighting or whatever, and you’re trying to sleep, and all this is going on right outside your window.”

Linda organized a petition — presented at St. John’s city council meeting Monday evening — to collect signatures asking the Newfoundland and Labrador Liquor Corp. (NLC) not to grant the licence. “I don’t want it there no more. I don’t want what goes on there. I just don’t want the club there. It’s interrupting our lifestyle. It’s interrupting the neighbourhood. … It’s done its time, for 50 years, and now it’s time to close it down.”

The closure of the bar has improved property values, says Linda. Bill notes that since the application appeared in the paper, three for-sale signs have gone up on the street. He said he doesn’t know if there’s a connection, but he suspects some of his neighbours don’t want to stay if the bar reopens.

But not everyone on the street is against the bar reopening. Across the street, Linda Squires, who lives with her brother, says she’s never had any problem with the bar.

“That’s been here since I was four, since we moved on the street. I’m 62, so that’s a good while,” she said, adding she’s never had any problem with noise.

“No, not a thing. Never had a problem with anyone in it either, I’ve gotta say,” she said. Squires said she was surprised to hear about the petition. “Well, I wouldn’t sign it. … We didn’t want a problem with it. Everyone’s friendly there.”

Ward 2 Coun. Jonathan Galgay, who presented the petition at Monday’s council meeting, says he supports the residents who want the liquor licence rejected. He’s long heard complaints of excessive noise and traffic in the area, which has another bar, the Peter Easton Pub, on nearby Cookstown Road. Galgay emphasizes that not all bars near homes are a problem — he’s never had a complaint about the Georgetown Pub on Hayward Avenue, for example — but says it’s not working out on Boncloddy.

“I don’t think that a liquor licence should be approved, and if I had my way I’d actually rezone the property, but unfortunately I can’t do that, because that’s the way that it was done many, many years ago,” he said. “I’ve actually asked staff if we can rezone it, but unfortunately there’s nothing we can do.”

There’s nothing city hall can technically do about the liquor licence — a provincial matter, Galgay acknowledged.

“All we can do, and all I can do, is put pressure on the liquor board to give careful consideration about issuing a permit such as this,” said Galgay, who has requested a meeting with the NLC. “The building itself could be used for many other facilitiees such as a cafe, a bakery, something like that. I think something like that would be a little more welcome than having a bar in a neighbourhood like that.”

Hannah White, listed in the notice as the applicant for the licence, was not available Tuesday, with the Telegram told she’s out of the country.

Organizations: NLC, Sports Bar, Newfoundland and Labrador Liquor Georgetown Pub

Geographic location: Boncloddy Street, Gear Street, Coronation Street Cookstown Road Hayward Avenue

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Recent comments

  • resident of Boncloddy street
    August 15, 2014 - 10:32

    i just read this i dont get paper but i will say im on this street 16 yrs no1 knocked on my door to protest this but now i will go on about how i feel... this bar been there sense 1951 or 1952.... the people main 2 linda and pam to me are Hippocrates those 2 went to this bar with there sister and friend drank there played machines like what the heck i just cracked up laughing at the comments they said and for now this road we still cant fine a place to park people from other streets park so it wasnt the club all in fault and neighbors out chatting again i sit on my step every morning i dont see no1 only my neighbor who i have tea with ..and the music for god sake people moved in across from me pass 3 or 4 months i seen more police and fire trucks at that house than i have ever seen at the sports and music and yes i use to go to the sports 1000 per cent.. so i did notice i see people chatting and even old owners come to meet there old costumers and people met new friends.. its crazy like theres is only a few on this street that lived her just a few yrs or even months even after the club close down .... i had to write this cause its people that are Hippocrates that piss me off.. i would like to no did they say they went there i be they didnt ...... they just wanna see and hear what they want to .. thank you.. i just had to speak up on this just an if ya thinking well this person cares it open really i dont care if it do or not theres lots of clubs to go to .. i just dont like liers ...Thank you ......resident

  • Happy City SJs Resident
    August 13, 2014 - 11:56

    Some people are able to act appropriately when drinking, others are not. Regardless of the clientele of a particular establishment, there will always be people who aren't able to act appropriately when drinking. That said, some establishments attract more of that type than others. I can't see how anyone could argue with the residents of Boncloddy Street when they say that they would prefer not to have their loved ones exposed to those who aren't able to act appropriately when drinking on a regular basis. Nobody wants their loved ones, particularly those who are vulnerable, to be afraid to walk from their vehicle to their front door at night. To those who say this is an unfair affront to local business, there is no need for another licensed establishment in the area. The Peter Easton serves that purpose just fine. Parties interested in operating a business at the location of the Sports Bar could easily choose from any number of operations that don't involve the provision of alcohol. I'm certain the residents of the street would be in favor of that.

  • m.h.
    August 13, 2014 - 11:33

    I don't live any where near the complaintants on Boncloddy; however, I sympathize with the majority bothered by noise, fighting & language from a pub close by. I would never put up with that and the folks trying to have a peaceful, friendly lifestyle, should not have to either. Nobody mentioned children; It must be devastating to have young people exposed to the immorality of so-called adult behavior.

  • wavy
    August 13, 2014 - 11:17

    I wonder how quickly/ emphatically those zoning laws would be challenged if it were a strip club going in there? Not that it would make a whole lot of difference or make things worse for the residents from the sound of things. I wouldn't even think of trying to raise kids in such a neighbourhood, hosing vomit, blood and other bodily fluids off the sidewalks and what not.

  • Not buying it
    August 13, 2014 - 10:50

    Sorry, I'm not buying it. One of the neighbors who had been there for 60 years says it's a load of BS. It's just prudishness. Some people don't like the idea of a bar so they make wild accusations. Our council aren't the brightest so they'll probably buy the BS.

    • Common Sense
      August 14, 2014 - 12:43

      Some people in the area are afraid to the tell the truth because of some of the goings on at the pub. As a homeowner in this area I do not want the noise, mess, traffic or crime outside my house. I certainly do not want my house to lose any of its value. Wild accusations aside, the residents of this area know what really was going on at this establishment. We deserve peace, quiet and safety. Biker bars and residential neighborhoods don't mix. No one should have to sell their homes at a loss to raise their children elsewhere

  • Tim
    August 13, 2014 - 07:44

    I lived on the street 20 years ago near the pub. It was a scene of people passed out on the sidewalk, passing out in peoples vehicles after gaining entry, public urination and defecation, drug trade and prostitution including alley way sexual acts from same, severely intoxicated people mistaking a private residents door for the pub door, broken glass and trash, having to hose off the sidewalk in front of your home from the vomit, fist fights on the sidewalk. All this on a SUNDAY afternoon. Glad I got out of there. This TYPE of establishment does not belong on a residential street or anywhere else for that matter.

    • BILL
      August 13, 2014 - 10:00

      Tim you are so full of it making up stories. This is a fine establishment with a great clientele it's been there for years and should remain, don't believe all the lies being told.

    • Common Sense
      August 14, 2014 - 12:45

      Bill must have been a regular.