February 19, 2019 8:56 pm
Updated: February 20, 2019 9:16 pm

Edmonton’s Nyala Lounge to get its business licence back

WATCH ABOVE: An Edmonton business owner has been granted the right to re-open his lounge, again. The move is seen as a victory in an ongoing battle but it comes with a call for better oversight of an oversight body. Vinesh Pratap reports.

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Crediting an outpouring of community support, the business licence for the Nyala Lounge is being reinstated, after the Community Standards and Licence Appeal Committee at Edmonton City Hall overturned a previous decision of the city’s program manager.

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This is the second time Nyala has lost and regained its business licence. Last September, city officials reinstated the bar’s business licence just one day after revoking it, after owner Moe Tesfay argued he was out of the country when the city issued its original notification.

This time, several members of the African community argued that Nyala was safe, and Tesfay was on the receiving end of discrimination.

“This is a very respectful place,” Rashid Hersi told reporters after testifying to the committee. “It’s a mature crowd. It’s a decent place, and it boils down to we — the African community — we are grieving.

“We are grieving about this profiling. This has to stop.”

READ MORE: Edmonton bar Nyala Lounge gets business licence back 1 day after city cancelled it

Tesfay was shocked at the decision, and his lawyer Tom Engel said he had to repeat the ruling to him before it sank in. But Tesfay isn’t 100 per cent sure he’ll reopen.

“I have to change the name because everybody thinks it’s a dangerous place, everybody thinks there are a lot of criminals that go there,” he said after Tuesday’s decision.

“So I have a lot of work to do for that. I have to advertise it more to recover, but I’m going to think about that, if I’m going to open it.”

Engel said he is upset with how differently police handled this ongoing file.

“You look at the video and the heavy police presence with their flak jackets and everything, it just seemed all out of proportion. It seemed like a ridiculous devotion of police resources to one small business that wasn’t a danger.”

Nyala Lounge owner Moe Tesfay speaks at city hall Tuesday, Feb. 19, 2019.

Scott Johnston, Global News

Nyala Lounge is located at 10875 – 98 St. Tesfay launched an appeal on his business licence being revoked in December. Last Friday, the committee was to review that appeal, however, the hearing was postponed. In the interim, the city had the lounge closed.

READ MORE: Edmonton bar Nyala Lounge stripped of business licence

“The committee would have found that there were condition breaches,” Councillor Jon Dziadyk read into the record when the ruling was made. “A short suspension would have been warranted. But since the business has been effectively shut down since the hearing was postponed last week, that suspension was sufficient.

“The decision of the program manager is overturned, and the conditions shall remain in place.”

Two other city councillors: Chair Moe Banga and Tony Caterina are also on the committee.

Tesfay is still subject to criminal proceedings, which will be in court later this spring. Engel told reporters police have not responded to a disciplinary complaint filed by Tesfay into police conduct. Engel said that file has not been active for several months.

Nyala Lounge has also ran into problems with bylaw officers, however, the vast majority of tickets issued have been tossed out.

Watch below: Ongoing Global News coverage of Nyala Lounge’s licence dispute

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