Rio Theatre owner says liquor licensing change is not a real fix

Rio Theatre owner and general manager Corinne Lea said she was originally “ecstatic” to hear the provincial government had changed its liquor licensing rules to allow venues to screen films outside the hours defined in their liquor licence.

But upon further examination, she said the restrictions on scheduling for liquor licence holders mean that “the fix isn’t actually a fix”.

“At this moment, I’m only allowed to show movies during the day,” she told the Straight by phone. “So, only showing movies during the day does not solve the problem. We need to be able to show movies whenever we don’t have live shows booked.”

While the change announced by the provincial government today (February 9) means that licence holders can choose the days of the week and hours of the day they wish to have liquor service, Lea said the unpredictability of the entertainment industry makes it difficult to set a permanent schedule for her venue. She noted that she is often required to release films on dates set by movie distributors, and is told by live music acts when they will be touring.

“Unfortunately, they’re asking me to be set in stone with my schedule, and that is pretty much impossible,” she said. “We are going to follow the rules 100 percent, but we need something that is flexible, that follows the nature of the entertainment industry.”

The regulatory change follows weeks of controversy after the Rio Theatre was granted a liquor licence in the evenings for live events, but was prohibited from screening any films.

The condition on Lea’s licence stating that she could not screen any films or live broadcasts at the venue has now been removed. The rule prohibiting liquor service during film screenings still applies.

According to a government statement, once venues have their days and hours of liquor service approved by the Liquor Control and Licensing Branch, licence holders “may apply for temporary changes to liquor service hours”.

Lea said she is still hoping to negotiate a more flexible scheduling arrangement with the ministry, but is concerned that the latest change won’t make much of a difference for her business. The updated rules do mean that she can bring back the Rio’s daytime film screenings, such as weekend matinees and the “Movies for Mommies” program.

“As it is, I can show movies during the day, which is not that much of an improvement financially,” she said.

Rich Coleman, who is now the B.C. minister responsible for liquor licensing following a ministry restructuring, said in a statement that today's change will “give licence holders throughout the province greater flexibility in the types of entertainment they offer”.

Comments (13) Add New Comment
Travis McCrea (Pirate)
As I said in the initial post, this was another dumb move by our B.C. Liberal government (seriously when can we vote again?). Custy Clarke seriously is out of touch with reality, and in this case it was such an easy fix:
Remove the draconian law.

Instead, they went around to amend it so they could say "oh look what we did" without actually doing anything.
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earlnelly
again with the whining, Lea? you can't have it all - just ask any bar/restaurant owner. if you can't set a schedule for when you're open and want to sell liquor then get out of the business, whiner!

just go away already.
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MZ
Well - I have to admit I was wrong in my response to Ms. Lea's earlier full-caps laced screed, when I opined that some rinky dink East Van theatre wasn't a big deal on the Liberals radar and that nothing would likely be done.
So here I was, all ready to come back here, do my obligatory mea culpa and happily note that Commercial Drive wankers could now vote BC Liberal to their widdle hearts content - and what do I find?
Ms. Lea still can't have her cake, so it's crybaby time all over again.
You signed it. Nobody held a gun to your head. They tinkered it and accommodated those proprietors who can't read - and it's STILL not good enough?
Enough with the whining.
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carter hayes
earl nelly obviously isn't in the music biz...
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Bodacious
Funny, I went to the single screen Dunbar Theatre last night to see The Descendants, which has been out for a while. The theatre was quite busy and staffed with just two people Maybe Ms. Lea's got the wrong business plan.
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Arthur Vandelay
The Straight's cause celebre continues ... somebody make this thing die already.

The Straight hasn't had this much unwarranted coverage of minutia since the extensive coverage lavished on the Kimball Cariou campaign in the last federal election. I think the Straight did at least one story for every one of the 210 votes that he received.
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R2
Holy Fark except for 2 comments so far in this latest post I can't believe the negativity again towards The Rio Theatre....Just give them the flexibilty to serve liquor at live evening music shows and the ability to show films without booze when they so choose.
Why is this such a big farkin deal?
I think though I've figured out all the people spewing negativity towards the Rio are a bunch of dull knobs who wouldn't know a good time if it came out of the bush and bit them (Georgia) Straight on the ASS.
Give the Rio what they want and if you need to monitor it for 6 months and if we have police coming every weeknight dealing with drunkin double bill foreign film lovers brawling it out on Broadway and Commercial then take their licence away.
Enuff already!
Keep fightin Corrine and Good Luck there's way more people pulling for you than not....
By the way I'm looking forward to Thomas Dolby in 2 months and catching some good films til then
and I'll enjoy a few bevys at Thomas and a nice Cafe Latte at the Double Bill!!!!!!!!
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R2
And Vandelay instead of wastin our time with your smugarse comments go grab your hand lotion, hunker down on your lazboy and pull your pud to 20 year old Seinfeld reruns,,,,,
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ps
MZ and earlnelly: it sucks that you're telling Corinne Lea to stop "whining". The Rio has great programming (well, sure you may not agree), and is independent. But I'd like to say that in a city full of restrictions, in an age of apathy towards improving culture, etc... I'm glad someone who has a small bit of power (ie-running a cultural venue like the Rio) is standing up and speaking out when she thinks things could be better.

MZ: it's simple to say "you signed it, now you live with it". Perhaps you've only had good experiences dealing with the city's bylaws, but I've found they could be clearer and more accessible (as in, consolidated in one place)

earlnelly, why can't we have it all? Or at least, why shouldn't we try to?
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RealityCheck
The sad fact is that this whole affair speaks more about the Rio's lack of Business acumen than the Liquor laws.
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Shocked
How can you turds gang up on a struggling small business? Shame on you! Miserable trolls. Get out of your Mom's basement and try doing something with your lives other than posting nasty childish comments.
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Todd
Well while Barbie Clark plays Princess Premier, Rich Coleman is here to save the province from the peril of a beer with a movie. After he put guns in the hands of transit cops (though they seem to prefer tasters for fare evaders and save the guns for the show of machismo that Coleman's slag constituency licks up like horses at a salt block), Rich is here to make sure we don't trip over ourselves in the fatal dark of the theatre aisle, nor that questions of 'is that seat taken' lead to donnybrooks.
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Tamara
I'm sure my comment was not included here because i used the word f**king in it, just like someone else had earlier when i was reading the comments. Whatever. Not like i've never seen that word in this publication before. Anyway, my comment was not slamming the Rio or Lea. I don't understand why it's so important to be able to serve alcohol during a movie? I've never gone to a movie and thought, gee, i'd like to have a beer or a margarita. I want popcorn, pop and maybe some chocolate! Is this society so obsessed with having alcohol at every event that they go to? We have beer and wine at sporting events, in the pubs & clubs, at theatre events and concerts. Isn't that enough? Going to a movie is one of the last "innocent" activities that people can do (although, the content of a lot of movies isn't so innocent).

My beef with the law was that it wasn't going to allow the Rio to show movies whether they sold alcohol or not. We had just discovered their "two for Tues." special a few weeks ago and were planning to become members. It's possible that we might be interested in some live shows, but we're a more quite couple and big raucous band shows just aren't our thing. Would i buy a beer/wine or mixed drink if i could, when going to a movie? Maybe, but it wouldn't determine whether i'd go to that theatre. It's the movie i'm going there to see. I'm very glad that the Rio is still going to be open and allowed to show movies, still have their "two for Tues." nights and serve alcohol at their live events, if they choose to.
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