The owners of a forthcoming downtown Kelowna live music venue are brushing aside legal threats from a neighbouring resident.
After city council last week supported a liquor license application for Revelry Food and Music Hub at 1383 Ellis Street, a GoFundMe was launched by Lloyd Pederson, a resident of the adjacent Madison condo complex and president of the Madison strata board.
Pederson has long opposed the business over noise concerns and the GoFundMe—which has raised $5,900 to date—is intended for a legal fight to prevent the venue from opening.
In a lengthy statement posted to the Revelry website on Monday, owner Lee Simon says residents of Kelowna’s Cultural District should expect just that — culture and live music.
“Those who chose to live in the Cultural District but wish to contest the addition of a new privately funded arts-based business are prioritizing their own wants and needs over an overwhelming majority,” Simon said.
“Kelowna is evolving. In this post-pandemic environment, new models are required to save live music – because it is in trouble. We will continue our endless work on behalf of live music, and the countless benefits and connections that it provides for our community.”
Simon notes that when they acquired the location in 2021, it was already appropriately zoned and its site selection was coordinated with city planning staff.
He also emphatically pushed back against the characterization of his business as a “nightclub.”
“Stating the obvious, most traditional nightclubs are not open during the day. Nor do they consistently charge for event tickets, provide restaurant service, have a full-service kitchen, offer meeting facilities or present programming for a variety of ages, including youth,” Simon said, explaining Revelry will operate as a food primary establishment about two-thirds of the time.
Capacity is expected to be 600 for standing shows or 300 for seated performances.
Kelowna city council last week only provided a recommendation of support for Revelry’s liquor license, with the final decision-making authority resting with the provincial government.
It is not clear how exactly a legal challenge against Revelry would be mounted, something Simon noted.
“Should a lawsuit be filed against us, we will respond in kind. Live music is always worth fighting for.”
Simon claims all the opposition to the Revelry is concentrated in one address — the Madison condo building next door. A GoFundMe in support of the business has since surfaced.
“Mr. Pederson has failed to garner a majority of his own building to oppose our efforts despite restricting my attempts to communicate with the residents directly and spreading false information and personal accusations. And while Mr. Pederson utilized $4,000 of strata funds to hire a professional to oppose our development permit, he has now resorted to a Go Fund Me campaign to finance his personal grievance, only contributing $500 so far himself.”
The largest contributor to the GoFundMe, custom-home builder Les Bellemy, contributed $2,000 to the fund.
Bellemy, who has been a vocal critic of city hall on many issues for the past couple years, says he would personally be impacted by the venue.
“I think often in our community, as is similar with a lot of communities, that people voiced opposition to things that are happening, but they're not willing to actually step up and do something about it,” Bellemy told Castanet.
“So you know, and I feel this is part of a larger picture with our current council and mayor, that they're not really listening to the community or the impacted… So I think it comes to a point where folks are just, enough is enough, and something needs to be done. And so I'm willing to put my money where my mouth is.”
Bellemy says the towers built next to the planned Revelry venue were constructed before the city adopted its plan for the Cultural District through its civic precinct plan.
“So this is a case of residents moved to the area, because the City of Kelowna suggested that downtown densification is important. So we took our hard earned dollars, and we moved to the downtown core. And then, out of nowhere, they adopted the civic precinct plan and then decided that putting a 600-seat primary liquor license live entertainment venue right next to those residents was a good idea.”
Bellemy says Revelry would be better located near Prospera Place, in the north end brewery district, or even a block or two away from the condo buildings.