Editorial Cartoon by Graeme MacKay, The Hamilton Spectator – Saturday September 23, 2017
Council looks to nix program forcing Hess Village bars to pay for police
The city is poised to kill contentious bylaw rules that force Hess Village bars to pay for extra policing during patio season.
Ward Coun. Jason Farr introduced the motion Tuesday that would remove paid duty policing from the special “entertainment district” bylaw governing the pedestrianized party strip.
The planning committee voted 7-2 in favour of the motion, which still needs a council sign-off next week.
The city has long insisted on extra policing along the strip, which earned a reputation over time for alcohol-fueled rowdiness and violence. Council passed a bylaw in 2010 specifically requiring Hess Village bars to pay for up to 10 paid duty officers to patrol on weekend nights in the summer.
But on Tuesday, Farr argued “the village is not was it was when we enacted that bylaw.”
He said bar owners report a “busy” night now attracts around 1,500 people compared to a high of 5,500 back in 2010.
The number of bars sharing the bill under the paid duty program has also shrunk from 15 a few years ago to seven this year.
More bars are also “getting wise” to the bylaw loopholes, he said.
Bylaw head Ken Leendertse explained some owners are adding more seating and cutting late-night hours to be treated as a restaurant, rather than a bar. Only the latter must pitch in for paid duty police.
Hamilton police Supt. Will Mason told councillors he agreed crowd sizes have “decreased somewhat” over time, “but not substantially.” (Source: Hamilton Spectator)