Vancouver approves pilot program for indoor arts events
Vancouver city council has voted unanimously in favour of bylaw changes aimed at allowing arts events at a broader range of venues.
At a public hearing today (March 12), council gave its approval to a pilot program that will allow sites like art galleries and warehouses in certain zoning districts to legally host two events a month of up to 250 people.
Vision Vancouver councillor Heather Deal said the two-year program will “crack open a huge amount more space” for legal arts events.
Under current bylaws, facilities that are not rated for assembly use are not permitted to hold large gatherings of people, leading to what the city estimates are between 250 to 500 unregulated arts events per year.
Before it voted on the changes, council heard from a series of speakers from the arts and culture community, many of whom called for the city to expand the program to allow more than two events per month.
Musician Colin Cowan, who spoke to council on behalf of China Cloud Studios, said he supports the initiative, but wants to see the frequency of permitted events increased.
“I do support the pilot program and I do think that it’s a wonderful thing that the Vancouver community needs to take on,” he said. “I do think that eight a month is a much more reasonable thing to add onto this.”
Ryan McCormick, a director with the Safe Amplification Site Society, spoke in support of the changes, but said his group wants to see the program go much further to allow more events per month at a wider range of venues.
“We’re asking you to broaden the eligibility of the requirements of this permit, so that more underground venues can apply for it, become licensed, and become safer not only for their audiences, but for themselves, and to avoid being shut down,” he told council.
City staff said the two events per month limit was chosen partly because it aligns with the number of special occasion licences B.C. permits per month, and also to monitor the new approach.
Deal said she hopes to see the pilot program reviewed well before the two-year mark to assess whether there are any changes the city wants to make, such as expanding the number of event licences per month for each venue.
The pilot program is the result of a regulatory review of live performance spaces launched by the city in 2009.