A new bar is proposed for the location formerly occupied by Santo’s. Paula E. Kirman
McCauley residents and business/community groups came together in early February to oppose a proposed new bar at the former Santo’s site at 10821 95 Street.
Over a few days people and groups were mobilized to urge City Hall to deny a business licence for the proposed adult-only bar and gaming establishment, including VLTs and off-track betting. Letters of objection were also sent to the Alberta Liquor and Gaming Commission in response to an application by the new owners for a minor’s only liquor licence at the location.
While remaining neutral, Mark Davis, McCauley Community Coordinator with REACH Edmonton, played a key role in providing timely and factual information about the licencing applications. “The goal for REACH was to empower the community to act as effectively as possible on its own behalf,” he said.
“And the community expressed itself loud and clear. In my 14 years as a McCauley resident, this has been one of the best examples of stakeholders rallying in unison behind a common goal.”
According to Miranda Ringma, McCauley resident and co-owner of Zocalo, “Creating the community we want to live and work in means working together. This time, it meant sending off emails, chatting with people, and making a bunch of calls to rally and work towards good planning decisions in Little Italy. Whatever the result, it was a galvanizing and engaging process working with many neighbourhood folks we respect and even got to know a little better.”
Santo’s shut down due to smoke damage after a small fire more than a year ago. The new ownership seeks to reopen on the site as the Running Horse Saloon.
The proposed new bar is located in Plaza 95, close to La Dolce Vita Café, which has long been the focus of concern as EPS reports there are frequent incidents of drug deals, violence, drug use, and other criminal behaviour on the site.
“It’s so important for us to work together”, said McCauley resident Teresa Spinelli who is also president of the Italian Centre and the Viva Italia District Association.
“It takes a village to raise kids, build community, and to make anything worthwhile work. I’m not sure whether we’ve won the fight, but it’s awesome that my neighbours and friends wrote letters.”
Ward 6 Councillor Scott McKeen contacted the City’s business licencing department, as well as Gaming, in support of the opposition to the new bar. “For any elected official, their authority comes from the community they represent”, McKee said. “It’s really important for diverse neighbourhood voices to come together in the face of adversity.”
“The residents of McCauley have done that in spades.”
The McCauley Community League joined these efforts by contacting Gaming objecting to the adult-only liquor licence, and also contacting Mayor Iveson and Chief Planner Peter Ohm about the business licence and building permit.
Phil is President of the McCauley Community League.