New Year’s Eve, 2008, I walked by the Vault with my 80 year old mother about an hour before a massive brawl broke out on the sidewalk. The police called it a riot as dozens of drunken patrons fought; people were stabbed with broken bottles and bones were broken. Last summer the Vault was the scene of another late night brawl.
Now, directly across the street from the Vault and next door to Chainsaw, the Waterloo Theater seems poised to become a nightclub.
Here's some local buzz about the plans for the Waterloo Theater, which apparently will be called Beta. I'm not sure there's anything to be done to prevent Beta at this stage. A local resident has asked the Alcohol and Gaming Commission to withhold the liquor license, but it's doubtful that that approach will work. If the City of Waterloo had funded the arts to a decent degree (and not thrown so much of available funds into the pit that is the Clay and Glass Gallery), perhaps the previous attempts to make the theater a cultural center (Theater Athena and the Waterloo Entertainment Center) would not have failed.
As a long-time Waterlooian, I'm a bit paranoid about Waterloo suffering the fate of Kitchener. When I was growing up in Waterloo in the 60s and early 70s, downtown Kitchener was a wonderful, vibrant area full of interesting shops. The main attraction was the string of movie theaters along King Street. One of the downfalls of Kitchener was when those theaters got turned into clubs, with all the drunken brawls, public urination and vandalism that goes along with nightclubs.
The core of Uptown is King Street from William to Erb. Uptown needs to expand north up King, and our new nightclub zone is the first block north. The area is slated for streetscape improvements next spring. I'm really concerned that this concentration of booze cans (as the Chronicle likes to call them) will mess up the development of other blocks to the north.
Some of our city councillors believe that any criticism of bars is due to teetotalling tendencies that must be ignored. I disagree. Local politicians may have heard out-of-line complaints about bars; that doesn't mean that all concerns about bars are invalid.