UPDATED JUNE 23 1:30PM: Wrongbar owner Nav Sangha says city councillor Gord Perks should set aside his greivance with his bar to let queer Parkdale residents party in the same way as gays in the rest of the city.
“This whole objecting to Pride has nothing to do with my capacity increase,” says Sangha. “No matter how you slice it, it doesn’t make sense not to allow your constituents to celebrate.”
News broke June 17 that Wrongbar had been yanked from the list of bars slated to get a 4am liquor licence extension as part of Pride week. Other bars were approved by the city, and, at the time, Wrongbar was gearing up for its iquor licence extension granted as part of NXNE.”
Perks, the Parkdale councillor that vetoed Wrongbar’s extended hours during Pride, says the dispute has more to do with the bar than the festival. Wrongbar has applied for a capacity increase, but Perks spoke against it during hearing held by the Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario (AGCO).
Sangha also objects to Perks’ comments to Xtra that suggest Wrongbar is a renegade bar. He says that he’s never been ticketed by the AGCO and that he’s only recieved one fine from bylaw staff, and it was for being four stools shy of the 110 seats the city requires they have on hand for patrons.
He says he likes Perks personally and hopes to resolve their spat soon. Sangha, Jeremy Laing from Big Primpin and Mary Zondanos from Pride Toronto all requested a meeting with Perks last week, but have so far not heard a response.
“I’ve been pleading with Gord,” says Sangha. “There’s still time to turn this around.”
Although the city has granted Parkdale-area hotspot Wrongbar a 4am liquor licence extension during NXNE, it has denied a similar request from Pride Toronto.
Two of Pride week’s coolest parties — Vazaleen and Big Primpin — appear to be caught in the crossfire, victims of a dispute between city councillor Gord Perks and the bar’s owner, Nav Sangha.
Big Primpin is planned for Friday, July 2 at Wrongbar; Vazaleen is set for Sunday, July 4 at the same location. This year’s Vazaleen doubles as a Will Munro memorial and a fundraiser for queer people living with cancer.
Jeremy Laing, a promoter for Big Primpin, says he heard June 17 that the city put the kibosh on extending Wrongbar’s hours during Pride.
“The question is, why is it okay to have an extended licence for NXNE, but not for Pride?” Liang says. “It sends an unfortunate message.”
Pride Toronto applied to have Wrongbar included in the list of bars that can serve booze for two extra hours, but councillor Perks admits the city moved to yank it from the list.
The city has bad blood with the venue that has nothing to do with Pride, Perks says.
“We’ve been having problems with Wrongbar for some time now. They’ve been ticketed for operating as a nightclub, when they’re licensed as a restaurant.”
Wrongbar contested that fine. Meanwhile the club wants to expand, and has applied to the Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario to do so. The city opposes the expansion.
Perks says that the city handled the NXNE application in March, then Pride’s application in May. In between, he says, he the bar was fined and refused to make concessions to city staff with respect to its growth plans.
“In the intervening months, all of that fell apart,” says Perks. “It has nothing to do with the nature of the event, nothing at all.”
But that doesn’t sit well with Liang.
“We decided to support Wrongbar in our monthly slot during Pride,” he says. “There are a lot of gay people in Parkdale, and a lot of gay people who come to these events.”
“And it’s one of the few events in Parkdale during Pride.”
Calls to Pride Toronto and the Parkdale BIA were not immediately returned.