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Liquid Zoo loses in Court of Appeal

The BC Court of Appeal has upheld the three-day suspension of a liquor license for the Liquid Zoo, a nightclub in downtown Kelowna, that found itself in hot water after a patron was seen sporting gang clothing inside the bar.

Last year, a Supreme Court judge upheld the original ruling, rejecting an application for a judicial review made by club owner David Habib. Justice Geoff Barrow acknowledged there was an element of unfairness in the process, and found it unreasonable to impose a maximum penalty to the nightclub, but that was overturned by the Court of Appeal in this most recent ruling.

“As the chambers judge correctly stated the applicable standard of review, the issue on this appeal becomes whether he applied it correctly. In my respectful opinion, he did not,” stated Appeals Court Justice David Tysoe.

“…the approach the chambers judge should have taken was to determine whether the three-day suspension of the licence fell within a range of possible, acceptable outcomes. He was not to substitute his own appreciation of the appropriate solution.”

Habib had tried to argue that he did not see the clothing and believed conditions only applied if a member of his staff witnessed the infraction. While testifying later at a hearing, Habib said he knew the Kingpin Crew was a motorcycle club, he did not realize at the time of the incident it was a criminal gang.

Officers attending the establishment on Jan. 12, 2012 recognized several patrons as members of a motorcycle gang, one of which wore a cap with the numbers “113” on the front and “Kingpin Crew MC” in smaller lettering on the back.

This contravened a new condition implemented by the general manager of the Liquor Control and Licensing Branch, following previous history that included gang activity and business dealings with gang members at the location.

Appendixes to this particular liquor license included:

  • Licensee must ensure that no patron or employee will be allowed entry into the establishment at any time with any apparel or jewelry of any kind with gang affiliated identification.
  • Where any person (employee or patron or entertainer) who removes a garment inside the establishment that reveals any gang affiliated identification or support for any gang or gang activities – including tattoos and all types of apparel – that person will be removed immediately.

According to Kelowna RCMP, the Kingpin Crew was disbanded several months ago. The gang was believed to have been fronted by Habib’s brother Dale.

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