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Odyssey given yet another lease on life

City extends gay club's lease on a month-to-month basis

Odyssey staff and patrons can expect business as usual for the next few months after the city decided to extend the gay club’s lease on a month-to-month basis.

“I think it’s great. It’s a positive outcome for everybody,” says club owner, Michael Levy, upon hearing the news Apr 23.

Levy says he supports the social housing project slated to eventually occupy the club’s Howe St location but is relieved the city has given the club another extension, buying him time to find it a new home. Levy says he has been actively searching for a new location since the city turned down his application to transfer the club’s liquor license to 911 Denman St. The application rejection followed a lengthy and contentious community consultation.

“We’ve already started looking and we have identified two possible options,” Levy reveals but declines to comment on what those options are or if they are located in the gay village.

City staff told council at the Apr 9 hearing that BC Housing had secured capital funds and the project was set for development immediately at Howe St. Jerry Evans with city real estate also said he was under the impression that development of the site was slated for May. However, last week, BC Housing told Levy that the joint city/province project that will house people living with HIV/AIDS would not begun construction at 1252 Howe Street anytime soon, as capital funding had not been solidified.

Xtra West’s attempts to reach housing minister Rich Coleman about the project’s funding were unsuccessful up to press time.

City councillor Tim Stevenson predicts that development on the site will begin soon than expected. Stevenson, who was out of the country when the council voted against the club’s relocation to Denman St Apr 9, says he would have voted with his caucus had he been at the hearing. The Mayor and Stevenson’s fellow Vision Vancouver councillors voted against the club’s relocation to Denman with an amendment that city staff assist the Odyssey in finding a new space. Council’s sole NPA representative, Suzanne Anton, was the only councillor to support the club’s relocation.

“I’m satisfied that, from what the club argued, it [disturbance to neighbors] can be controlled,” she said during the hearing.

This week Stevenson said he and Mayor Robertson contacted city real estate and advocated for the club’s additional lease extension

“I am enormously concerned,” he says, referring to the challenge of finding an appropriate home for the club. “This [club] is one of the few gay clubs we have left in the city,” he adds.

Stevenson notes that housing for people with HIV and AIDS is necessary and needs to proceed. “But we also want to make sure that we relocate the Odyssey,” he says.

Stevenson says the extended lease agreement documents were sent to Levy Apr 23. The latest extension is the club’s third since being told by the city last May that they would have to move after the site was picked as one of 14 city-owned properties slated for social housing redevelopment.

Once signed, the lease allows the club to remain at the current location on a month-to-month basis until the province decides to actively begin construction.

“They [BC Housing] have given every indication to us that they want to proceed quickly so we have to go month-to-month,” explains Stevenson. The new lease agreement also states that the city must provide the club with a 30-day notice before terminating the monthly lease.