A new application at municipal hall seeks to add a bowling alley and game centre in the heart of Whistler Village.
A report to council on April 24 detailed the application from National Beerhall Inc.—a division of Calgary-based Concorde Entertainment Group—which proposes a massive overhaul of the long-vacant property located at 4295 Blackcomb Way (formerly the AlpenRock House, which closed in 2002).
The proposal includes a restaurant, patio and lounge on the main level, and eight bowling lanes, billiards, ping-pong, foosball, skee-ball and basketball nets on the lower level.
"We're very excited. It's a concept that we have spent a lot of time developing and we think it's a tremendous fit for Whistler," said Brian Lee, chief financial officer with Concorde.
National is just one of 13 brands under the Concorde umbrella, with four National locations already up and running in Calgary.
Discussions for the Whistler expansion started about 12 months ago, Lee said.
"We've always been looking for opportunities to expand our brand," he said.
"And when we went out there to look at it, we liked it. Obviously Whistler is a great community—vibrant, growing, it's a tremendous resort destination."
The application is in regards to liquor licence hours and capacities for the new establishment, which requests capacities of 258 people under a food primary licence (183 on the main level and 75 on an outdoor patio) and 358 people under a liquor primary licence (69 on the main level and 289 in the downstairs games area).
The proposal complies with the property's current zoning but will require covenant modifications, which will take it to a public hearing process.
With council's approval, an open house will be held May 30 at 4:30 p.m. at the Delta Village Whistler Suites to gather input from the public.
Feedback will be presented at the June 5 council meeting with a public hearing tentatively set for June 19.
With an estimated peak staff requirement of 73, some councillors raised concerns about staff housing.
The issue has been raised with the developer, said municipal planner Frank Savage.
"National does recognize the critical nature of housing employees in the Whistler community, and has been asked to investigate solutions to housing their employees," he said.
The proposal could fill a need in Whistler Village, as it has been reported that food and beverage service demand far exceeds supply during peak times, Savage said.
But Councillor Sue Maxwell wondered about the inevitable downswing.
"Some people in the community feel that we are already too busy, and in the past we've built a lot of accommodation space and then had to try to fill it," Maxwell said. "Are we worried that by increasing the amount of restaurant space and the liquor space here, that we might also—if there's some sort of downturn—be in a situation where we're trying to fill all these spots?"
It's a valid concern, Savage replied.
"At this point I would look at the increase in visitation in both summer and winter that has occurred in the period of time that we've lost (other) restaurant seats," he said.
"As part of the public process we'll get an idea of what the need, the demand and the capacity is in the community."
At 20,000 square feet, the sheer size of the proposal is notable as well, said Coun. John Grills.
"The average restaurant in town is 3,000 square feet, so you're concerned about the existing businesses and the impact on that—(but) it may help us in the peak times and it may be a huge draw during the slower times," Grills said.
"But I like the process where it's going to an open house first, and hearing from the industry, the hotel sector, tourism and everybody has a say ... let's get the word out so they can make their opinions heard."