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Resort Municipality of Whistler in the middle of Nordic fallout

Lost Lake ski pass prices up slightly over last year

The municipality is getting caught in the middle of a disintegrating partnership between Whistler Sport Legacies (WSL) and a private Nordic ski operator.

At Tuesday's council meeting, Roger Weetman, the Resort Municipality of Whistler's (RMOW) manager of recreation services, asked for council's nod to negotiate separate dual passes with Callaghan Country and WSL. Effectively, nordic skiers would be able to buy a discounted dual pass for the Lost Lake trails, the municipal nordic trails and either Callaghan Country or WSL, which operates the $120 million Olympic Nordic facility.

Though they have worked together in the past, that partnership between Callaghan Country and WSL unravelled this summer. And that has some council members concerned.

In his report to council, Weetman stated: "It is unclear as to whether a tri-area pass product will be an option for customers, at least for the upcoming season, based on some history between the other two ski areas."

Zeidler pointed to the partnerships forged in the lead-up to the 2010 Games.

"To me this is a fairly critical negotiation that we've gotten into," said Eckhard Zeidler of the dual pass proposal.

"If we cannot see ourselves in a partnership with Whistler Legacies Society then we need to see them as a competitor."

Councillor Grant Lamont nodded his support to Zeidler's comments.

Mayor Ken Melamed, in response to a question from Callaghan Country operator Brad Sills, said he has calls into the president of WSL to talk about the issues at hand.

In the meantime, council also approved the pass rates for Lost Lake this season. It will be $18.50 for an adult day ticket to access the 25 kilometres of ski trails nestled close to the village. That rate is up slightly over last year but compared to other ski areas, Whistler is on the cheap end of the scale. It's $9.25 for a night pass, which can be used after 3 p.m. There is significant discounting on the Season's Pass rates as well as the increasingly popular "Community Night" Monday.


Late night hours policy redefined


After long consultation with Whistler's bar, nightclub and restaurant operators, the municipality has laid down the law on late night hours.

In an effort to appease bar operators, the police and village guests looking for a good night's sleep, the municipality has revamped its liquor licensing policy, making the language more "enabling."

Bars and nightclubs can get temporary extensions past 2 a.m. if they can prove it's extraordinarily good for the community without negative fallout.

The policy states: "The municipality does not support extensions of closing hours for licensed establishments past 2 a.m., except for specific dates/events established by policy or for proposals that are determined by council to generate extraordinary benefits to the resort community and do not have any unacceptable negative impacts on the community or the resort."

Councillor Ted Milner raised the issue of the letter from Joey Gibbons, the nightclub representative on the Liquor Licensing Advisory Committee, included in the council package that highlighted his concerns.

Gibbons wrote: "The nightclub sector strongly disagrees with not being allowed to stay open until 3 or 4 a.m. when the demand is there and the appropriate business is in town to support it."

Gibbons did not return Pique 's phone call before deadline this week.

Milner was told, however, that ultimately there was buy-in from everyone on the committee, including Gibbons.

Council must approve any extension application and staff is proposing a 90-day period in order to process the application.

There are four exceptions to the rule:

• December 31 - all licensed establishments are permitted closing to 3 a.m. without application to the municipality;

• WinterPride Festival at the Whistler Conference Centre - permitted closing to 4 a.m. for a single weekend night event, subject to review and council approval;

• Telus World Ski and Snowboard Festival at the Whistler Conference Centre - permitted closing to 4 a.m. for a single weekend, subject to review and council approval;

• Cornucopia Festival event at the Bearfoot Bistro - permitted closing to 4 a.m. for a single weekend night, subject to annual review and council approval.

Councillors Ted Milner and Ralph Forsyth were opposed.