Nightclub owner appeals to stay open

A nightclub owner appealed to a City of Red Deer committee on Tuesday over why his business should remain open despite law enforcement concerns over violence, overcapacity, and underage customers.

A nightclub owner appealed to a City of Red Deer committee on Tuesday over why his business should remain open despite law enforcement concerns over violence, overcapacity, and underage customers.

Quan Diep of Calgary, along with his lawyer Dana Carlson of Red Deer, appeared before the Red Deer Appeal and Review Board because they were appealing Inspection and Licensing’s decision to permanently revoke the nightclub’s business licence in September.

The downtown Tequila Nightclub has remained open since the appeal was filed. Erin Stuart, permits and licensing supervisor with the city, said the city believed the operator had put the public’s safety, health and welfare at risk.

“In our opinion, the issues are clearly outlined in the history which indicate that since this establishment opened in 2011, there have been constant non-compliant issues with this establishment,” said Stuart.

Concerns included a stabbing that occurred across the street from the club on Jan. 22.

Other security footage showed various problems, including patrons being permitted to enter through the exit door. An airport-style metal detector was turned off prior to the closing of the premises.

Due to public and police concerns, a team of 18 officers from the Red Deer Public Safety Compliance Team entered the nightclub late on Aug. 21 and into the early morning of Aug. 22.

Twelve minors were found.

Two members of Red Deer Emergency Services, part of the compliance team, did a head count and determined that around 225 people were inside, when the maximum allowed is 100.

Tequila was charged with a number of violations under the Alberta Gaming and Liquor Act.

Stuart said since the letter, dated Sept. 10, was sent to the nightclub, the appellant has since made some changes to security.

However, the seriousness of the inspection on Aug. 22 shows that the licence should be revoked, she added.

Diep said he has operated a number of clubs in town and said he has never had an issue in the last 10 years to this extent.

“It’s been a good 10 years,” he said.

One security employee told the committee that the airport-style security system has stayed on all night when he’s been around. He stays at his post during his shift.

Another employee, Robert Crane, said that he’s worked security in a number of places around the country including Toronto.

“I found Tequila was very hands-on with what they do,” said Crane, who called it a respectful place. “I deal with Quan directly and as an owner…we have an initial meeting with security staff and says I want ‘pat-downs on the ball.’”

Diep said on the night that the minors were discovered, they had a doorman who wasn’t properly checking people for ID. When asked why he wasn’t doing his job, he told Diep that ‘sorry, I dropped the ball.’

The doorman was fired, Diep said.

Diep also questioned the numbers of people counted inside the club on Aug. 22. One of his security employees counted 147. A number of more than 200 people would be way to crowded, Diep said.

In a written submission to the board, Diep said he continues to make sincere efforts to comply with the conditions of the city’s Drinking Establishment bylaw. This included installing airport-style security devices and installing four security cameras.

When the city asked for videotapes from the security cameras, it came to light that not all four cameras were properly being downloaded for viewing. Several technological issues followed with regards to getting data from the camera system.

A decision from the review board was adjourned until Oct. 24 at 5 p.m. This gives both the appeal board, as well as the appellant and his lawyer, to review the security footage which had been in the city’s hands.

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