It will still be several months before Whistler’s bars and restaurants know the exact wording of provincial laws that will allow the creation of temporary liquor licences during the Olympics and Paralympics, but they are satisfied that the Resort Municipality is taking their concerns seriously.
“First and foremost, the municipality has been very accommodating of us through this whole process, having that meeting (on July 15) was more than other municipalities would even think of doing,” said Joey Gibbons, manager of the Gibbons Hospitality Group in Whistler and a member of the Whistler Food and Beverage Association.
“The legislation is set, it’s all basically happening, and right now we’re just trying to figure out how it will happen in Whistler.”
The liquor licenses would comply with all existing provincial liquor laws, but allow more flexibility when it comes to serving food that current liquor primary and food primary establishments don’t currently have. The law may allow for establishments to suspend their licences and apply for the new Olympic/Paralympic class of licence.
And while there’s no limit to how many licences can be awarded in Whistler or elsewhere in the province, the law would limit applications to Games facilities and services, Olympic and Paralympic sponsors, National Olympic Committees (NOCs), Canadian federal and provincial governments and foreign governments to operate licenced facilities. Local governments would also be allowed, although municipal planner Frank Savage said he is not aware of any plans for the Resort Municipality of Whistler to apply for a licence.
Gibbons says bars are concerned about how the licences will be used, especially if Olympic and Paralympic sponsors take over storefronts and buildings throughout the village during the Games. He also questions the need to offer more licences for Whistler.
“The one main difference between us and other cities where licences are going to be considered is that we are a village, we are the place that other places will try to emulate,” he said. “For example, Richmond is really spread out and will need to act differently than Whistler to create an Olympic Village with a temporary licence. Whistler already has that in place, and it’s working perfectly.
“What I’m hearing from the group (of bar owners) as a whole is that they don’t want these special licences given out to other people that are more beneficial when we’re the ones that go through the tough times in October and November and we’re the ones that are struggling to find staff. We don’t want the guy next door to get a special licence with extra privileges.