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Decision deferred for lounge at Cineplex at Avalon Mall in St. John's

Coun. Ian Froude said he’s still awaiting details about the proposed lounge, but he should have the information in time to make an informed vote at the next council meeting Jan. 20. JUANITA MERCER/THE TELEGRAM
Coun. Ian Froude said he’s still awaiting details about the proposed lounge, but he should have the information in time to make an informed vote at the next council meeting Jan. 20. JUANITA MERCER/THE TELEGRAM

Council expected to vote on Monday, Jan. 20

ST. JOHN'S, N.L. —

Moviegoers are left in suspense for another week about whether or not alcohol will be served at Cineplex at the Avalon Mall. 

A discretionary use application was submitted to the city by Cineplex in December requesting permission to operate a lounge. 

St. John’s city council was originally scheduled to vote on the matter Jan. 6, but that meeting was cancelled due to a snowstorm. It was on the agenda again for Monday’s regular meeting, but Coun. Ian Froude, ward councillor for the area, motioned to defer the vote. The motion passed, with Coun. Sandy Hickman and Coun. Jamie Korab voting against deferral.

“I simply just want to understand the mechanics of it, so, how’s it going to work once you get in there?” Froude told reporters after Monday’s council meeting. 

“Is it going to be available to everyone for every movie? Is it going to be available at concessions? 

“And we just weren’t able to connect (with Cineplex) and get those questions answered prior to coming in here today. So, I just want to have answers to those before I’m comfortable voting on it.”

Details in the application were vague, saying only the lounge would be in “the existing cinema area,” and would operate during regularly scheduled movie times (starting 11:30 a.m. on weekdays and 10:30 a.m. on weekends, and ending 15 minutes after the last posted movie of the day).

"I just want to have answers to those before I’m comfortable voting on it.” — Coun. Ian Froude

Other than that, the application states that the sale and consumption of alcohol would strictly follow all provincial laws and regulations.

The Telegram contacted Cineplex by email and telephone on Jan. 3 to learn more details about the proposed lounge. By Jan. 10, there was no response, so The Telegram again contacted a Cineplex spokesperson and received an emailed statement.

“While making liquor available in our Newfoundland theatres is certainly something that we’re working towards, we do not have any updates or timelines to share at this time,” wrote Sarah Van Lange, executive director of communications. 

“What I can share is that currently Cineplex operates 87 theatres in Ontario, Manitoba and Alberta that are fully licensed.”

Froude said he expects to have answers from Cineplex this week, and the application should be back on the agenda for the next council meeting on Jan. 20. 

Meanwhile, Froude said he’s heard from some residents who have questions about the proposal. He said he’s heard “mixed opinions” about whether alcohol should be permitted in theatres, or in what way it should be allowed. 

The city received two written submissions in response to posted notices about the application in December.

Both were against the proposal.

One submission expressed concerns about underage drinking, and turning a family-friendly activity into another place to drink alcohol. 

The second submission noted there is already alcohol sold at The Rec Room adjacent to the cinemas. 

“It’s nice to keep some public spaces alcohol-free for families and also for people who struggle with alcohol addiction,” reads a part of the submission. 

Twitter: @juanitamercer_


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