Senate Tavern, Senate South in Ottawa allowed to reopen under strict conditions

OTTAWA — The Senate Sports Tavern and Senate South will be allowed to reopen, under strict conditions, after the establishments liquor licences were suspended following an incident where an Ottawa police officer was allegedly assaulted during a COVID-19 compliance inspection.

On Dec. 5, the Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario (ACGO) announced the liquor licences of the Senate Sports Tavern at 33 Clarence Street and Senate South on Bank Street were suspended “for reasons of public interest and safety.” The Registrar of the AGCO also issued notice of proposals to revoke the establishments liquor licences for an infraction of the Liquor Licence Act.

An Ottawa police officer visited the Senate Sports Tavern at 33 Clarence Street on Nov. 29 to ensure the establishment was complying with the Reopening Ontario Act (ROA) during the COVID-19 pandemic. The AGCO said during the inspection, the officer observed a group of people entering the premise shortly after 10 p.m.

“The officer attempted to enter the licensed premises to conduct an inspection under the ROA and was allegedly assaulted by an owner of the business,” said the AGCO.

“This individual was arrested and charged with offences including assault on police and possession of illegal narcotics. He was also charged with obstructing the inspection under the Reopening Ontario Act.”

On Friday, the AGCO announced the Registrar lifted the Orders to suspend the liquor licences of Senate Sports Tavern and Senate South, and allowed the establishments to open. A hearing before the Licence Appeal Tribunal to consider the Registrar’s Notices of Proposal to revoke the licences will be held in the new year.

Among the conditions allowing the establishments to reopen is that the licence holder must ensure the person charged by Ottawa police in the Nov. 29 incident is not permitted to enter or be adjacent to either premises and may have no involvement in the day-to-day business operations of the licensed establishments.

The AGCO said the licence holder agreed to ensure the premises are cleared of all patrons and closed to the public by 9:30 p.m., and that all staff will leave the premises by 10:30 p.m. daily.

In a statement to CTV News Ottawa on Dec. 5, Steve Ryan of The Senate Tavern said he was “saddened and frustrated by this incidence.”

Ryan said he went to the Senate Sports Tavern in the ByWard Market on Nov. 29 to ensure the staff was able to get people out by the 10 p.m. closing time. 

“I was helping to clear out my restaurant in line with the 10 p.m. curfew when an officer arrived at the door. When I went to speak with him, he aggressively pushed past me. And when I protested, he assaulted me,” writes Ryan in the statement.

“I take the restrictions around COVID-19 very seriously. My business partners and I have gone to great lengths to create and maintain a safe environment for our staff and customers. And we have always honoured the city’s pandemic-related restrictions.”

Ryan adds, “Much of the information that has recently been made public is inaccurate. I look forward to the opportunity to address the charges against me and my business in court.”

None of the allegations by the Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario have been tested or proven in court. 

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