CORNWALL, ONT. — After nearly three decades, Pac-Man, Frogger and other arcade classics might finally make their way to one Ontario city.
In a move straight out of “Footloose,” bylaws in Cornwall — notable as the hometown of beloved Canadian actor Ryan Gosling — have banned arcades with more than four gaming machines since 1992. Bored teens and people looking to win enough tickets for a giant stuffed elephant have had to satisfy their urges elsewhere.
However, city councillor Justin Towndale brought a motion to repeal the bylaw before Cornwall council Tuesday.
“Times have changed drastically ... and arcades are making a comeback,” Towndale said during Tuesday’s meeting.
The ban was an alleged attempt to cut down on drug use by teens, following similar efforts across the United States. Citing the Washington Post, the journal “Environment, Space, Place” noted that in 1983 Vienna, Va., banned businesses from housing more than three arcade machines because parents were worried about “kids wasting money, staying out of school and ‘hanging out’ around the popular machines.”
If we’re worried about kids, we should probably be setting our sights on Fortnite or Minecraft — not pinball machines. Arcades these days more commonly host awkward holiday staff parties and third dates than any major criminal activity or hooliganism. Video game and arcade bars have popped up across Canada, where adult patrons can freely drink overpriced IPAs and play games to their hearts’ content. In Vancouver there’s even a weed video game bar.
Towndale argued that lifting the ban will not only allow the people of Cornwall to get in on the gaming action, it will be good for local business.
“It’s a positive for the city,” he said Tuesday.
Times have changed drastically ... and arcades are making a comeback.Cornwall City Councillor Justin Towndale.
Towndale said the motion was partially inspired by a local entrepreneur who wants to open a video game museum in the city — currently impossible under the bylaw. He noted that several other local businesses have explored introducing arcade elements but can’t under the bylaw.
Not everyone was in favour. Councillor Glen Grant questioned why the ban was in force in the first place and suggested council consult with police.
“Maybe they know something we don’t,” Grant said.
On Tuesday, council voted to reexamine the ban but opted to consult the public before making any major decisions.