Public safety enhanced by $40,000 nightclub fine
On October 24th, 2018, 1742535 Alberta Corp. was convicted of a Safety Code Act violation and received a $40,000.00 fine as well as a 15 per cent Provincial Victim Surcharge. The conviction was related to overcrowding during an inspection by The City’s Public Safety Task Force on July 16th, 2017, at Bespoke Night Club, located at 736 10 Avenue SW.
This was the nightclub’s fourth overcrowding conviction in less than three years. Overcrowding and other fire safety offences pose serious risks to patrons and the danger is potentially fatal. According to court documents, no other business in Canada has been charged with an offence of this nature more than twice.
“We are pleased with the Court’s decision to convict the business owner and impose a substantial fine. This conviction and fine will remind business owners that it is their responsibility to comply with all requirements of the Alberta Fire Code”, said Paul Frank, Prosecutor for The City of Calgary. “This case is precedent setting for Safety Codes Act prosecutions in Alberta and significant for public safety, the Calgary Fire Department and the Public Safety Task Force.”
The Safety Code Act is designed to protect the public, create compliance, and deter businesses from unsafe practices. Businesses can be fined up to $100,000 for a first offence and up to $500,000 for subsequent violations. Provincial Courts determine the amount of the fine.
According to James Robinson, Fire Marshal for the Calgary Fire Department, The City’s preferred approach to safety code compliance is education over enforcement.
“Our goal when we find violations is to work with the business owner and help the establishment become compliant with the safety codes,” said Robinson. “However, when an establishment has multiple violations, we need to work with our City and Provincial partners to protect the public, patrons, and employees of the establishment from injury or even death.”
The Public Safety Task Force is comprised of Calgary Fire Department Fire Inspectors, along with the Alberta Gaming, Liquor and Cannabis Inspectors, City of Calgary Licensing Inspectors, and the Calgary Police Service. Created in response to the 2003 Rhode Island Night Club fire where 100 people were killed and 230 people were injured, the Task Force preforms up to 20 safety inspections per year and visits approximately 16 establishments per inspection. The goal of the Task Force is to ensure nightclubs, bars, and restaurants maintain the minimum standard set out by the Safety Code Act.
The Calgary Fire Department works in partnership with Calgary businesses and building owners to ensure the safety of employees, customers and other members of the public. City business owners are strongly encouraged to understand their responsibilities related to provincial safety legislation, and can contact 3-1-1 for more information or visit calgary.ca/fire under Fire Codes, Permits and Inspections.