Nightclub fined $40,000 for fourth overcrowding violation
Noting an overcrowded city nightclub could have resulted in a disaster, a Calgary judge on Wednesday ordered the bar’s owners to pay a $40,000 fine, its fourth for violating safety codes.
Provincial court Judge Mike Dinkel agreed with city counsel Paul Frank that a stiff fine was necessary to deter the owners of Bespoke from violating the ruling.
Dinkel noted raids at Bespoke, the fourth of which found the club at more than 50 per cent above capacity on July 16, 2017, were the result of a public safety task force struck following a nightclub disaster in the U.S.
“The catalyst for the PSTF was the infamous Rhode Island Night Club fire in which many people lost their lives,” Dinkel said, referring to a Feb. 20, 2003, incident in which 100 people died and 230 others were injured.
In his written ruling, Dinkel said Bespoke staff put patrons at a similar risk.
“If any kind of incident, including a fire, had occurred that night, the consequences would likely have been catastrophic.
“With that many people in the building and only two exits in place, egress from the building would have been slow and chaotic,” hesaid.
“It would have been a nightmare and potentially fatal for the very patrons that Bespoke claimed to care for and wanted to protect.
“Simply put, it was a disaster waiting to happen.”
Fire inspectors who attended the club during a Stampede event found the bar to be well in excess of the 255 capacity.
The door count was 420 and inspectors counted 345 patrons before customers were forced to clear.
It took 80 minutes to bring the count down to capacity.
Bespoke was also handed total fines of $19,000 for similar violations on Dec. 31, 2014, Aug. 15, 2015, and Oct. 31, 2015.
Safety codes officer Frank Schroder had testified he was unable to find an example where a club elsewhere in Canada had faced even a third violation.