Nightclub owner’s appeal to keep liquor license denied

A Winnipeg nightclub owner’s appeal to keep his liquor service license has been denied by the Liquor, Gaming and Cannabis Authority (LGCA).

The LGCA cancelled the license for Obsidian Ultra Lounge following an overcapacity violation on Feb. 4. It was the seventh infraction at the Pembina Highway nightclub over a 13-month period.

Qizheng (Leon) Yang, Obsidian’s owner, filed a notice of appeal. The LGCA report states Yang was not disputing that the lounge broke capacity rules, and was only appealing the penalty.

During an appeal hearing on March 6, a panel of LGCA board members heard inspectors warned Yang hours earlier that the club was nearing capacity.

However, when inspectors returned, they counted 227 and 245 patrons inside the club that night. Both counts exceeded the lounge’s 150-person capacity.

Yang told inspectors a promoter, who was charging a $10 cover fee that night, instructed him to ‘let everyone in’ and that he would pay any LGCA fines.

In a written decision released Thursday, LGCA panel chair Sofia Mirza stated, “to assume that a monetary expense may suffice to replace life safety considerations, speaks to the Appellant’s ungovernability and is a position that the Panel cannot find acceptable.”

The panel upheld the license cancellation after concluding Obsidian Ultra Lounge repeatedly breached Manitoba liquor licensing regulations.

Previous infractions dating back to Dec. 31, 2022, included four other overcapacity citations and two over-service violations. Penalties ranged from monetary fines to temporary license suspensions. In one instance, staff were ordered to complete mandatory training.

“Obsidian Ultra Lounge did not change their actions after six compliance orders in the period of only one year,” LGCA executive director Kristianne Dechant testified during the appeal hearing. “So given this, I had no choice but to see this pattern of continued noncompliance as indicative of ungovernability. This licensee is not suitable to hold a liquor service licence within Manitoba’s regulatory framework.”

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