Whistlerites weigh in on new liquor licence laws 

Survey open until January 2 at midnight

click to enlarge LIQUOR LESSONS About 25 people were in attendance for an open house on new liquor laws on Thursday, Dec. 14.
  • LIQUOR LESSONS About 25 people were in attendance for an open house on new liquor laws on Thursday, Dec. 14.

About 25 people showed up for an open house on Thursday, Dec. 14 at the Whistler Conference Centre to provide input on liquor licences for non-traditional businesses.

Under new provincial regulations, hundreds of Whistler businesses are eligible to apply for a liquor licence (provided they don't operate out of a motor vehicle or cater to minors).

But which types of businesses should be considered for liquor licences? What are some of the potential impacts of increasing access to liquor? What conditions should be considered when reviewing applications?

These were some of the questions posed to attendees of the open house.

For the most part, those in attendance were in support of allowing all businesses to apply, to be approved on a case-by-case basis.

Factors like suitability of the space (do they offer room for sitting? Tables? Access to washrooms?) and impact on neighbouring businesses could be taken into consideration in the approval process.

Speaking from a personal point of view, Matt Bennett of Black Tie Ski Rentals said offering liquor could enhance the guest experience for customers.

"It would be great if a guy who just spent $1,500 on his kids' and his family's rentals, when he gets down at the end of the day and kicks off his boots and sits down on the leather couch, I'd love to be able to offer him a beer," he said.

"For my business in particular, we're not looking to compete against establishments that already exist. We don't anticipate people hanging out in there... it's another layer of service that just makes people feel that much more comfortable."

But with a $7,000 application fee and annual payments of $2,400, some felt the costs of applying for a liquor licence could be too prohibitive for many businesses to make it worth it.

There is also a lot of extra work that goes into running a licensed established that some non-traditional businesses may not be aware of, noted Garibaldi Lift Co. manager Mike Wilson.

"I think people who don't know the risks and stress of running a licenced establishment will learn about those," he said.

"Because you may see the money in the numbers, but being responsible for when that person leaves your establishment, and fake IDs, and over serving... there is stress, risk and liability that come with holding a liquor primary licence."

Added Whistler Fire Rescue Service Chief Geoff Playfair: "Yeah, and that's why I think you're going to see a little bit of a bubble at the start and then it will taper out to the ones that are serious about it."

For those who wish to provide feedback but were unable to attend, a survey is available until January 2 at midnight at www.whistler.ca/liquorlicenceopenhouse.

The feedback will be used to form a draft policy, which will be reviewed by the Resort Municipality of Whistler's Liquor Licence Advisory Committee at upcoming meetings in January and February.

The policy will come to council for consideration in late February or early March, with any potential bylaw amendments being developed for Spring 2018.

Pick up next week's Pique for more.

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