Nearly a year after the city rejected a rezoning application for one of Vancouver’s most popular gay nightclubs, finding a new location for the Odyssey remains an elusive goal.
“Everything is kind of [at] a standstill right now,” says city licensing and bylaw coordinator Lucia Cumerlato.
Cumerlato says she has not received a new rezoning application from the club’s owner, Michael Levy, adding that the club will stay at its current 1251 Howe St location until the city begins construction.
Last spring, following a lengthy community consultation process and two days of hearings, Vancouver city council ruled against allowing the club to move to 911 Denman St. It cited noise pollution to the surrounding residential neighbourhood as the biggest concern.
The city did allow the club to remain at its current site on a month-to-month lease.
Levy had hoped the city would work with them to find a new space.
“We don’t expect the city to find us a site, but what we do expect is when we do find a site that the city will help make that site possible,” he said back then, calling on the city to “cut us some slack here.”
The city assured Levy they would help him find a new location and look into potentially “relaxing” certain zoning policies.
Cumerlato says city staff will still look into ways to assist Levy, but says rezoning and licensing policies depend on where the club plans to move, and the standard community consultation process will have to be conducted again regardless of where the club decides to relocate.
“We are looking at other locations, we are looking at a few,” Levy told Xtra West Jan 21. “But no lease has been signed,” he adds.
Levy would not say what sites he has looked at or if they are in the gay village.
Jerry Evans, associate director of real estate for the city, says the Odyssey continues to be on a month-to-month lease, and under that lease the city would only have to give the club one month’s notice to vacate the site.
Evans says he has not had recent discussions with the province about development. “Nobody has given me any indication of when [construction] will be,” he says.
The province has completed six of the 14 sites designated for redevelopment around the city, Evans notes, adding that Howe Street is one of the remaining sites listed for redevelopment.
Sam Rainboth of BC Housing says construction on the Howe St site is pending provincial dollars. The site is one of the other eight Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) sites for which capital funding needs to be identified, he explains.
Rainboth says he can’t give a timeline for development until funding is identified, which he suspects will happen in the next few months.
For now “it’s business as usual,” says Levy.
“The Olympics are around the corner and we’re getting organized,” he adds.
“Right now [relocating] is a non-issue and everyone is happy with that.”