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Bar managers work to end price wars

Recommit to Good Neighbour Agreement to curb rowdiness in village



Over the past two weekends the Whistler-Pemberton RCMP responded to more than 90 calls, most of which were related to alcohol.

While those numbers are more or less typical for this time of year, with people taking advantage of off-season hotel prices and the annual influx of new workers, there is some concern over the recent decisions by bars and clubs to offer drink specials.

In the past, bars and clubs would refrain from offering drink specials as part of a Good Neighbour Agreement among managers and owners.

The Good Neighbour Agreement is essentially a voluntary agreement on the part of owners to keep noise levels down, to ensure the orderly dispersal of customers at closing time, and to avoid over-serving customers. The agreement not to offer drink specials stems from the "bar wars" that took place in the mid-to-late 1990s, and which resulted in high levels of drunken and violent behaviour in the village.

Realizing that kind of behaviour was starting to scare tourists away and impact Whistler’s reputation, bar managers formed the Whistler Food and Beverage Association, and with the municipality and RCMP created the Good Neighbour Agreement to set a higher standard for doing business in the resort. With most establishments complying, that put an end to the bar wars.

The drink specials started to appear last winter when a January rain storm and warmer than normal weather kept tourists away, and some bars and clubs were looking for ways to attract customers. While business picked up in the spring and summer, tourism numbers are still down and the drink specials are still being offered.

Whistler’s bar and club managers met last Friday to discuss issues and to reaffirm their commitment to the Good Neighbour Agreement.

"I think because there are a lot of new managers and owners in town, it was a good time to bring out the Good Neighbour Agreement again," said Joey Gibbons, who represents the ownership group of Buffalo Bill’s and The Longhorn Saloon on the Food and Beverage Association. "We dropped off copies to the different bars, went through the agreement to make sure we were clear, and everyone at the meeting agreed to it. Some of the bars that were not following it as much as we’d like, they got back on track I think, so it was good."

The Good Neighbour Agreement is voluntary but there are a lot of reasons for complying, Gibbons added.

"It’s pretty obvious (reading) the Pique that there are places coming out with these drink specials. It’s tough because we can’t control what they do, and I don’t think it’s up to us to do that. But places that choose to do that kind of thing will face bigger issues when it comes to expanding their licences, and doing that kind of thing with the municipality," said Gibbons.

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