Watch above: The Edmonton Public Safety Compliance Team is reasserting calls to revoke Encore nightclub’s business licence after a riot earlier this month. Quinn Ohler has the details.
EDMONTON – After a riot at a west end nightclub, Edmonton’s Public Safety Compliance Team is repeating its request to have the venue’s business licence revoked.
The Public Safety Compliance Team has been monitoring Encore nightclub since it opened in West Edmonton Mall in January 2013.
“Since the venue opened, the Compliance Team has noted reoccurring incidents of weapons violence – specifically stabbings – assaults, large fights inside and outside the venue, drug activity inside the venue, the presence of the criminal element – including gang members – and noncompliance with regulations and various bylaws,” said Sgt. Jacob Montgomery.
In February 2014, the team submitted a report to the Chief Licensing Officer asking that Encore’s business licence be revoked.
Montgomery says the latest incident – a riot that happened during a rap concert on August 1 – was another reason the licence should be taken away.
“On August 2, 2014, Edmonton Police Services west division’s beat officers contacted us and let us know about the incident that happened at Encore during the Young Gangsta rap concert on August 1, 2014,” explained Montgomery.
Edmonton police responded to the nightclub when they heard a commotion inside. As they approached, about 800 people left the venue and spilled into the parking lot.
“Fights ensued and broke out, and just quite a bit of disarray throughout the parking lot,” said EPS spokesperson Scott Pattison.
Officers called for backup, which resulted in a major response, including tactical teams, K-9 units and mall security. The riot took about an hour to get under control.
“The rapper … has been charged with one count of conduct detrimental to a licensed premise,” said Pattison.
A couple of people were initially arrested, but no one else was charged.
Pattison added that there were known gang members inside, but it appears their IDs were not scanned upon entry.
The August 1 incident prompted the Compliance Team to submit another request to the Chief Licensing Officer.
“The team drafted a follow up report to include the latest incident,” said Montgomery.
“What happened on August 1, the riot, is just more of the same of what we’ve been seeing.”
Montgomery says no one was injured on August 1, but there have been other violent incidences there, including a stabbing during a rock concert in January.
“It’s a dangerous place, and that’s the stance the Public Safety Compliance Team has taken since February and our stance remains unchanged,” added Montgomery. “Our request is that the business licence be revoked as we do feel that public safety is at risk.”
Out of almost 1,000 licensed venues in Edmonton, Montgomery says Encore is one that the Compliance Team is “primarily focused on right now.”
Encore has until the end of August to appeal the submission. The Chief Licensing Officer’s decision is expected in September.
Edmonton’s Public Safety Compliance Team’s job is to increase public safety in and around licensed establishments. Montgomery explains the first step to addressing a problematic venue is always education, followed by ticketing venues for infractions. The final step, he explains, is revoking the business licence.
And, while problematic venues are rare, they are still concerning.
“You’re always going to have that minority – people that are in it for the money, not necessarily for the common good, public safety.”
Global News has reached out to Encore, Young Gangsta, and the concert promoter, but none has responded to the request for comment.
West Edmonton Mall will not be commenting on the incident.
© Shaw Media, 2014