Meeting on village violence viewed as a positive step 

Stakeholders discuss possible solutions for recurring problem

By Clare Ogilvie and Andrew Mitchell

It was only an average weekend for Whistler’s night owls last week – eight people picked up for being drunk in public, more than 20 tickets handed out for open liquor, and one person arrested for assault with a weapon.

It is graduation time, and as has happened for the last few weeks, most of the trouble came from high school age students, but not all of it. Short-term resort employees, youths from the city, and adults who should know better all contribute to the problem.

It seems to be Whistler’s fate that the combination of cheap shoulder season accommodation and a reputation as a party town will always bring out the bad apples. The result is vandalism, noise, drunkenness, and occasional bursts of violence. A few weeks ago a Vancouver man was arrested with a handgun in his possession.

While most businesses in town are focused on staying afloat through the slow periods, they are also looking for ways to curb incidents in the village because they could tarnish Whistler’s reputation in the long run.

To share information and come up with ideas to help mitigate the problem, the Food and Beverage Association has been holding meetings every spring.

Wednesday, June 4, members of the Food and Beverage Association met at Buffalo Bill’s to discuss the issues. They were joined by Staff Sergeant Hilton Haider of the Whistler/Pemberton RCMP detachment, Bill Barratt of the RMOW’s Bylaw Department, council member Marianne Wade and representatives from the accommodation industry and taxi company.

One of the steps being taken is an RCMP-hosted security training program for Whistler doormen.

Other suggestions made by the group include a designated police presence at the taxi loop, more taxi stands around the village, better screening of guests at the booking stage, different methods for handling large groups of customers, a dedicated phone system that links local nightclubs and the RCMP, and more green buffers to absorb noise in the village.

One particular suggestion was well-received by all who were present – more regular meetings between stakeholders, at least twice a year.

Haider said it was a positive meeting for the most part, but did reveal a few cracks in any solution to the problem.

"There are some differences in opinion from some of the bars, different philosophies, which is a challenge right there. Equal partnerships (in handling the issues) can’t be accomplished," he said.

As for the RCMP, Haider said the detachment will continue its bar liaison program, which assigns members of the local detachment to local bars and nightclubs.

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