Who’s responsible for the Metro studio closure last night?

The buzz for the last ~18 hours is what forced the Metro studio closure from the city last night? Just announced from the City of Victoria, the Mayor, and several city councillors:

Yesterday afternoon at 4:20pm a No Occupancy Order was issued by the City’s Chief Building Inspector to the Metro Theatre located at 1411 Quadra Street. The theatre had increased the occupant load by installing unsecured seating without a permit and had not added aisles to ensure occupants could safely exit during an emergency. There were life safety concerns about whether the theatre had adequate exit capacity and the seating was structurally sound.

The property owner was advised by the City over nine months ago of the safety measures and permits required to ensure the property is safe for theatre-goers and staff working in the building. City staff have informed the property owner on several occasions during that period of the measures and permits required to safely occupy the building. 

The property owner has been into the City this morning outlining immediate measures to comply with the Building Code and is advancing their application for increased occupancy and tiered seating. The application includes a letter of assurance from a structural engineer to review the capacity of the seating. The property owner will remove approximately 90 seats to ensure there is aisle space for safe exiting. Upon the assurances from the engineer and property owner, the No Occupancy order was removed this morning at 9am. The Building Inspection division will work through the day to assist them in getting the permit by day end.

The big question now is, who’s the responsible property owner for the metro studio closure? My understanding is that Metro Studio is a part of Intrepid Theatre, who is a tenant, under lease, from the Victoria Conservatory of Music. So did the conservatory intentionally ignore the city’s requests, or did the tenants ignore the city’s requests via proxy from the Conservatory?

To have this happen in the middle of the Victoria Fringe Festival could mean significant revenue losses to the theatre and to the festival, not to mention a negative light on one of the best festivals in the city. We’ve verified there were several shows that were supposed to take place at the venue last night. If you have any more information, please comment below!

9 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by commenter on August 29, 2012 at 6:05 pm

    The real hit is to the performers. At Fringe festivals, performers pay a fee to get a space, and then get all of the box office. 90 seats gone x $11 per ticket = potentially $1000 in lost revenue per show for them. Why didn’t the City of Victoria inspect and issue a notice before the festival started?

    Reply

  2. Posted by Jan on August 29, 2012 at 6:27 pm

    Metro is open again tonight, and additional performances being added for the 3 companies affected last night.

    Reply

  3. Posted by Another commenter on August 29, 2012 at 6:53 pm

    The City letter states this issue has been on the table for 9 months. The Metro has been a busy venue during all that time, hosting a number of festivals as well as many sold out shows. Clearly, safety was not a paramount concern during the last 9 months. Why the City felt it appropriate to shut the venue down during one of the largest festivals on Vancouver Island, when they knew both Intrepid and the Conservatory were working to address the issues, makes me wonder what point the City’s Building Inspector is really trying to make.

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  4. Posted by Nathan M on August 29, 2012 at 7:37 pm

    Good to hear it’s back open today Jan. Sounds like a bunch of crap! Someone should post a lengthy review of that inspector in the Craig… use volunteers as surrogates, keep your own noses clean!

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  5. Posted by cqwww on August 29, 2012 at 7:57 pm

    From the Victoria Conservatory of Music:
    “Hi Kris, just to clarify it is Intrepid Theatre, who leases Metro Theatre from us and who is responsible for acting on the City’s request. We appreciate the City’s assistance in helping Intrepid Theatre address any issues of safety concerns in a timely manner.”

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  6. Posted by Anonie Moose on August 29, 2012 at 8:33 pm

    I would like to echo the comment above – why did the City feel that this was the time to intervene? It’s bad politics and it’s bad economics. Intrepid Theatre has documented through their survey year after year the fact that people actually come to Victoria, spending money on travel and accommodation (not to mention food, shopping and other attractions) just to see this long-running festival. Victoria is a tourist town and having events run smoothly is in everybody’s best interest. In addition to wanting people to come back to the festival, we want the performers to come back too – and if the City had shut down my venue just before I was set to go on stage, I might think twice about applying to participate in a Victoria festival next year. That would be a real loss for us.

    I’m very disappointed at this clear mis-management on the part of our municipal government. This was an action in bad faith – it’s mean-spirited, poorly thought-out, and unnecessary. After all the media attention about how our municipal government workers are raking in the cash, it just serves to fuel the resentment I already feel: we’re paying them *how much* to make bad decisions?

    I am going to write a letter to council and to our Mayor complaining about their poor handling of this situation, and I’d encourage anyone else who feels frustrated by this situation to do so, too!

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  7. Posted by Kelly Hudson on August 29, 2012 at 8:38 pm

    I realize that the Metro had time to fix the problem BUT closing the venue at 4:20 giving them no time to fix it was a ridiculous power play by the city and so embarrassing.

    I think the Mayor should make a public apology to the international artists that came all the way from Tokyo to enrich our city.

    Reply

  8. Posted by Liz on August 29, 2012 at 8:43 pm

    I wonder … to whom was the original letter, and subsequent letters, sent? That might help explain who is actually the property owner, as defined by the City.

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  9. Posted by Another commenter on August 29, 2012 at 9:57 pm

    REgarding the Metro having time to fix the problems, I believe the problems are not actually that simple and require the input of the Conservatory of Music, a structural engineer, an architect, the provincial building code, the City of Victoria Building Inspector, the Fire Marshall, the contrator that built the original risers and of course Intrepid Theatre. To make all these start align would be no small feat. If I understand correctly, Intrepid Theatre was working towards meeting the requests of the City’s Building Inspector so why the decision was made to suddenly take this action seems curious to say the least.

    Reply

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