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Black Bear Neighbourhood Pub to close after 26 years

'I put my heart and soul into that place,' says owner Ron Slinger

One of the most beloved community watering holes on the North Shore will close its doors for good later this year.

On Nov. 30, the Black Bear Neighbourhood Pub in Lynn Valley will shut down, the pub's ownership has announced.

Owner Ron Slinger said he’s sad to close. Why is it last call for the pub? “The lease is up … that’s the short answer,” he said.

Last year, the owner of the property the pub sits on filed a preliminary application with the District of North Vancouver to redevelop the site into a six-storey rental building with commercial/restaurant space on the ground floor. But that application has since been withdrawn, according to district staff. When asked if the Black Bear was given an option to renew the lease, Slinger chose not to comment.

Relocating is a nice thought, he added, but the cost and effort to do that is “unbelievable.”

“It’s a neighborhood pub zone, it’s specially zoned by the municipality,” Slinger explained. “There’s no place to replicate the Black Bear – a freestanding craftsman style home designed specifically to what was established on the North Shore centuries ago.”

“It would cost two-and-a-half million bucks,” he said.

Owner attributes Black Bear's success to deep roots in the community

While closing is sad in a way, Slinger said he and his staff have done amazingly to be part of the community for so long.

“I put my heart and soul into that place for the last 27 years, a lifetime,” he said, reflecting back on countless memories at the Black Bear – of wakes, weddings, divorces, babies, graduations and reunions. In a statement sent out on Tuesday, Slinger said it was an honour to share all these special occasions with guests and friends.

A big part of his satisfaction has been supporting the many employees who have gone on to other careers.

“How many people have [done] their schooling through working at the Black Bear, earned their money to become a nurse, earned their money to become a teacher?” Slinger asked. “It’s pretty amazing, when you think about the responsibility you have as an employer hiring people in the hospitality industry.”

Now, Slinger is welcoming patrons to enjoy a few farewell pints before the pub says farewell in November. He said he’s giving plenty of notice for that reason.

“Most places don’t last this long,” he said. “We’ve been through pandemics, we’ve been through depressions … you wonder how the hell you actually survived.”

Slinger attributes the pub’s success to its deep roots in the community, and the care the community gave back in return.

He spoke proudly of the Lynn Valley Black Bear Band, which Slinger started in collaboration with a music teacher at Ecole Argyle Secondary to give former students a place to play after they graduate. He also mentioned the North Shore Disability Resource Centre, where he became a large sponsor after a fellow barbershop singer became quadriplegic.

“It was just so much community,” Slinger said. “Every day you felt good. Or almost every day.”

Update (May 12, 2023 at 12:30 p.m.): This article has been updated with comment on if the Black Bear was given an option to renew the lease.