Opinion: Another day, another Burnaby hookah lounge fiasco

Chris Campbell

Here we go again.

Just months after the City of Burnaby shut down a Burnaby hookah lounge, another one just up the street is, uh, under fire for the sound of shots fired and a brawl outside.

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Back in October 2018, Burnaby council made a final decision to deny a hookah lounge’s appeal of a city closure order. Pure Hookah Lounge on Hastings Street in the Heights had 119 noise complaints filed against it and the city had finally had enough. You can read about that case here.

Now we have Bloo Bby Restaurant hookah lounge at 4052 Hastings St. On July 1, just after 2:30 a.m., Burnaby RCMP responded to a call about multiple shots outside this business.

According to witnesses, a fight had broken out between a number of people outside a business in the area (you can view video of the fight below) and multiple shots had been fired at a vehicle, police said. Later, at 3 a.m., Port Moody police conducted a traffic stop on a vehicle that is believed to have been the vehicle that was shot at, but police say the driver is currently not cooperating with the investigation, and investigators are still working to determine his role in the Burnaby shooting.

The Burnaby business where the shooting took place has been the subject of a number of police calls in the last year, including seven in June alone, according to Burnaby RCMP.

Police didn’t identify the business, but neighbours have told the NOW the shooting happened outside the Bloo Bby Restaurant hookah lounge at 4052 Hastings. The business had police tape around it, as you can see in the photo above. The lounge has sparked complaints since it opened last year, according to Dan Killey, who lives in a 38-unit strata across the back alley.

The strata has made numerous complaints to police and the city about the business, he said, and launched a petition calling on the city to shut it down.

 

Killey said neighbours have had to put up with noise, garbage, public urination and fights between patrons who “party into the alley and nearby parking lots at many hours of the day.”

The shooting has only increased the neighbours’ concerns.

“We have had continued frustration with this business since they opened and this definitely would introduce significant safety concerns for the families that live across the alleyway,” Killey said. 

Another neighbour, who asked to remain anonymous for personal safety reasons, said she too would like to see the business shuttered, but doesn’t believe the problem would end there.

“There’s a bigger issue at hand here with the city approving this kind of licence,” she said. “If (the city’s) hands are tied legally, what about community safety? Where does that fit into the priorities? There are apartments above these commercial spaces.”

It’s a very good question. By my estimation, there have been about six of these hookah lounges open up in the past few years on Hastings between Boundary and Gamma Avenue.

I want to make clear that I’m not saying all of these hookah lounges are causing trouble, but we now have one that’s been shut down due to excessive complaints and a second that is the subject of a petition.

I have been contacted by numerous Hastings-area residents complaining about some of these businesses for late-night noise, fights and other issues.

It all seems like more than a coincidence. The City of Burnaby needs to take this into consideration before it approves any more of these businesses.

  • With files from Cornelia Naylor

Follow Chris Campbell on Twitter @shinebox44.

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