Playing by the Rules 

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Ensuring compliance and enforcement of liquor laws, through equal application of the laws and consistent penalties across the province, such as fines and license suspensions for the most serious cases.

Some nightclub owners feel that extending hours of operation for pubs and lounges and allowing restaurants to serve alcohol will inevitably cut into their piece of the pie. And while nightclubs will benefit from increased occupancy rates, they will also be under closer scrutiny as liquor license inspectors ensure that everyone follows the new rules and their license specifications to the letter.

"It’s a situation where we’ve gone from having to police ourselves in Whistler in a lot of ways, to very definite and consistent enforcement," says Dale Schweighardt, the manager for Buffalo Bill’s and head of the local Food and Beverage Association.

On Dec. 20, Schweighardt held a three-hour seminar at Buffalo Bill’s for 65 local bars and restaurants, called The Whistler Licensee Post-Liability Seminar. The seminar explained the new liquor laws and regulations in detail, the responsibilities of license holders, the liability issues that could arise, and answered any questions businesses had.

The seminar was directed by the provincial liquor branch, and involved the police, fire department, and ICBC. The RCMP talked about their Counterattack program, the fire department discussed safe occupancy issues, and ICBC discussed fatigue as the major cause of accidents on Highway 99.

"Although alcohol is always a major concern, sometimes it’s not the alcohol that’s the issue," says Schweighardt. "People drive up early in the morning, ski all day, have a beer, jump in the car and drive home; if it’s a warm drive home they just fall asleep.

"The liquor board outlined the incentives they’re going to try to put in place to resolve some of those issues."

While most of Whistler’s bars and restaurants had a general idea of the what the changes would mean, Schweighardt says many seminar attendants had questions or needed further clarification of the laws.

"I think everybody’s been fairly well-informed through the media, but there’s also a large amount of information that has come through that hasn’t been entirely clear or outlined ins a specific manner.

"I think it’s going to be a learning process for everyone – everybody expects it and accepts it – but nothing should be finalized until we’ve had a chance to catch up with the changes," says Schweighardt. "There was some comment that as a resort Whistler should be given a little more of a lenient sort of approach, that I don’t think that the liquor board is taking."

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