Toronto bar has liquor licence suspended for alleged breach of emergency order

·2 min read

A downtown Toronto bar has had its liquor licence suspended after police investigated a "noisy party" complaint at the location and charged the company and its directors with failing to comply with a provincial emergency order.

Bar Karma, 512 Queen St. W., has had its liquor licence suspended for reasons of public interest and safety, according to the registrar of the Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario (AGCO), a provincial regulatory agency. The order of "interim suspension" was issued on Friday.

At about 12:45 a.m. on Dec. 13, Toronto police went to the bar to investigate the noisy party complaint. When they entered, they saw more than 10 people who were not wearing masks or keeping two metres apart. Police also saw evidence of people drinking alcohol.

Police said both officers and directors of the bar were there at the time and police charged them with failing to comply with an order made during a declared emergency contrary to the Reopening Ontario Act (ROA). The legislation contains COVID-19 restrictions.

"During this second wave of the COVID-19 pandemic, we all have a shared responsibility to act in the public interest," Tom Mungham, registrar and CEO of the AGCO, said in a news release on Friday.

"This is particularly true for all those who hold a liquor licence in Ontario. By far most licence holders are in compliance with the ROA. However, for those that are either unable or unwilling to comply, the AGCO will not hesitate to take the appropriate regulatory action including revoking a licence."

The registrar said it has also issued what is called a notice of proposal to revoke the bar's liquor licence for infractions of the Liquor Licence Act.

Michael Charles Cole/CBC
Michael Charles Cole/CBC

That law requires that the holder of the licence "act and carry on business in accordance with the law and with honesty and integrity."

The AGCO said it has investigated many bars in Toronto for compliance and said the vast majority are acting responsibly.

But licence holders who do not meet these requirements can be fined, temporarily lose their licences or have their licences revoked altogether, it said.

Bar Karma can appeal the registrar's notice of proposal to Ontario's Licence Appeal Tribunal, the news release said.

The ROA was passed into law on July 21 to ensure important public measures remain in place to curb the spread of COVID-19 once the provincial declaration of emergency came to an end.

Michael Charles Cole/CBC
Michael Charles Cole/CBC
Jonathan Castell/CBC
Jonathan Castell/CBC